Archive for May, 2008

h1

The Movement Of All Opportunists

May 18, 2008

The Movement of All Democrats became the Movement of All Opportunists during the communication meeting held by Fouad Ali Hima and his team in Rabat in the 17th May 2008.

h1

“Information is Holy, and Comment is Free”

May 17, 2008

25 Moroccan youth and 25 American youth met in the POMED and AID conference, “Find Your Voice: A Cross-Cultural Forum on Political Participation and Civic Activism”, which took place in The Moroccan Capital Rabat last Month. I was asked to share my experience as a young English-speaking blogger with the participants? So I’ve decided to tell them my story through 3 verbs:

To Inform


When to the Moroccan Journalism School for the first time, the first thing I saw was a banner in the entrance wall with sentence “Information is holy, and Comment is Free”. This sentence haunted me for my 4 years in that school, until it became a part of who I am. Unfortunately, in everyday’s journalistic practice all the editors-in-chief I’ve worked with were hammering on me that my opinion doesn’t matter, and only pure information matters. After some years of swallowing my voice, I started believing that “Information is free” but “Comment is not free”. Therefore, I started looking for a way to express my voice.

To Express

In 2004, during one of the first blogging conferences in Morocco by Rachid Jankari, the first Moroccan blogger, I finally discovered the way to express my voice. That night I came home very excited, and created my first blog. It was the kind of blogs where you write your diaries and post poems and abstract photos. In 2006, I started my official blog “Words for change”, because I believe that my only weapon is my words and that by spreading the word it may change the world. Maybe I blog out of narcissism, maybe I blog out frustration, maybe I blog because I would like to share my thoughts, and tell the rest of the world about the place I live in and the problems people of my age face. In all cases, I think that blogging gave me back my voice and completed the other half of that old sentence “Comment is Free”.

We are 30 000 Moroccan bloggers today. Some blog in French, and they are stereotyped as being bourgeois blogging kids who went to French schools. And some blog in Arabic, and they are stereotyped as being Islamist radicals. In between there is some youth who blog in English, including me, who are stereotyped as being American spies. Well, the reality our diversity is a capital that make our strength, even if we aren’t organized as a community yet. Rachid Jankari described the Moroccan Blogosphere as being in its “Adolescence”, which make it unable to compete with classical Medias, and somehow unable to educate.

To Educate

Few months ago, I became a youth ambassador within the Middle East Youth Initiative, which gave me the chance to act as a peer-educator with my blog posts. The MEYI was initiated by the Wolfensohn Centre for Development at Brooking and the Dubai School of Government, as to promote economic and social inclusion of youth in
the Middle East by creating an international alliance of academics, policymakers, youth leaders and leading thinkers from the private sector and civil society. With the MEYI, I realized how it’s difficult to educate, especially that I’m just a 23 years simple girl from the region. My work as a Youth Ambassador is about sharing my little experience as a young journalist, as a youth activist, and as a human being. And that’s the best part of it, because as human beings, my readers may reach a self-identification status, and that’s what may educate.

That’s my story. The story of a blogger who believes that words may bring change, so “spread the word, it may change the world”. That’s how I’ve found my Voice. I hope you’ll find yours!

h1

Living With AIDS: Aicha, My Hero!

May 15, 2008

I always thought that real heroes are those who invented complicated machines or those who came-out with genius theories. All that, was before I met Aicha. Aicha in Arabic means Living. Indeed, in her eyes we can see the flame of life that only true heroes have. In addition to her 8 children and husband, Aicha is living with an unpleasant guest everyday inside her weak body: AIDS.

With her pink traditional dress, which they call Tub in Sudan, Aicha was standing in front of 70 strangers to tell proudly her story with AIDS, during the UNDP HARPAS workshop for Independent Artists, Bloggers, and Journalists, which was held in Cairo from the 5th to the 8th May. “I didn’t commit any crime. I was operated for appendicitis, and they transferred to me blood infected with AIDS. I had to face my family, my children, and the whole society”, she said to her curious audience. In fact in many Arab countries a huge quantity of blood is still used without being well examined. Aicha was lucky enough to have an understanding husband, who supported and encouraged her to tell her story on television and in international meetings without any fear or shame, in such a conservative society full of taboos. Undeniably, “HIV/AIDS’ power is not in the Virus itself, but in the vicious circuit of fear and stigma linked to it”, as Doctor Ihaab Al Kharat from the HARPAS team has explained during the same workshop. In fact, AIDS is just like any other illness that we can live with without any risks if we take the right medicine at the right time.

Nowadays 39.5 million people worldwide are living with the Virus. In the Arab Region they are more than 460 000 people living with AIDS. Yet, I would like to question these figures given by the UNAIDS, because they are all based on government statistics. How can we imagine that a country like Syria only have 300 HIV/AIDS cases, without mentioning the whole Khalij region which doesn’t want to communicate any official figures on the issue? Another alarming figure is that only 5% of the declared AIDS cases in the region have access to treatment. Not because of luck in medicine, but because of the society taboos and of a coward suicidal discourse related to the Virus.

I was so impressed by Aicha that I decided to sit with her and have a long friendly talk. I was like a little child staring at this monument-like lady strong and confident in her 30s. She told me how her husband and she are living a normal sexual life by using condoms during their intercourses. Aicha also gave birth to a little girl, who doesn’t have the Virus, after following the right treatment that reduces the quantity of HIV in the blood during the pregnancy period. However, if science found a way to cope with the situation, the reaction of the doctors, who are supposed to be the most compassionate towards people living with AIDS, was very harsh on her. Once the medical staff learned about her case, they just put her in the quarantine and left her sinking in her blood and tears, shouting until the head of the baby came out.

When I’ve heard that story, I was so angry and disgusted at the same time. I cried fiercely and hugged Aicha. I could not describe that moment. I felt that she is a young woman just like me, and that all the stereotypes of the society disappeared. 48% of people living with AIDS in the Arab World are women, and Aicha is one of the few women who are coping with the Virus in a normal way. I feel I’ve found a hero made out of flesh and blood, who can inspire me in my daily life. For Aicha, and because I believe in life, I will go tomorrow morning to check my blood in one of the local centres, where I can get a free HIV/AIDS test. I hope you’ll do the same!

Friends who wrote on the same subject:

http://www.charkawy.blogspot.com/
http://simplyme-stairway.blogspot.com
http://shokeir.blogspot.com
http://justice4every1.blogspot.com
http://nournour.blogspot.com
http://ahmedzidan.spaces.live.com/blog/
http://basmagm.wordpress.com
http://resstlesswaves.blogspot.com/2008/05/blog-post_15.html
http://ana-ikhwan.blogspot.com/2008/05/blog-post_15.html
http://zenzana.blogspot.com/2008/05/blog-post_15.html
http://www.alisafar.com/viewpage.php?page_id=19
http://kasakiswarak.blogspot.com/2008/05/blog-post_15.html
http://abujoori.wordpress.com/
http://elnaswiel3alam.blogspot.com/2008/05/blog-post_14.html

http://www.hamoudstudio.com/
http://www.mshjiouij.com
http://www.wanna-b-a-bride.blogspot.com/
http://www.assafir.com/weeklychannel.aspx?EditionId=937&ChannelId=5246
http://bikya.blogspot.com/
http://butterflybahrain.wordpress.com
h1

Wassm

May 10, 2008

This is a Video realized by “Kharij Assiyak Group” during the UNDP HARPAS workshop for bloggers, artists, and journalists as to show how steriotypes can be harsh in the Arab society towards people living with AIDS.