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“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!

10 comments

  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog.

    Tim Ramsey


  2. But have you chosen to blog in English? I do believe with you that words can change the world. We start by voicing our ideas, then we can get a chance to act someday. It all starts this way. But the language we choose to write affects whom we reach. I am concerned with this issue because I have Arabic and English blogs, and sometimes I wonder which should I give more time and energy. I live in both worlds and want to talk to both of them. When you blog in English only, you don’t talk much to your people. Just interested to know how you think about that.


  3. Salam Mohamed,
    I can blog in the ” languages as well, but we are supposed to represent morocco as it is with its arabic and frenc speaking magority but also with its english-speaking growing minority. if we all blog in the same way and in the same laguage, it would be very silly! because as our public is heterogenious so we should be. In addition, I would like just to remind you that blogging is a free activity and a blog is a free space , so we have no obligation towards anyone except ourselves. That’s why i hate when i hear the word “professional blogger” or “ethics of blogging”, it’s like trying to institutionalize anarchy😀 I hope you got my point. Please blog as you feel that’s what I have to say😀


  4. I just found your blog today, and I am delighted that it is in English. Thank you! I will be a regular reader.

    Eileen
    Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas (in the Middle East)
    elementaryteacher.wordpress.com


  5. Sorry, I forgot to ask you where you learned English SO WELL? I am REALLY impressed!

    Eileen
    Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas (in the Middle East)
    elementaryteacher.wordpress.com


  6. oh thank you Eileen! i’ve just discovered yours as well. I always was wondering how American teachers in the Middle east live that experience. Now , I guess I’ll have some answers😀


  7. lol I’ve grown up in London, and went to american style universities back home. but still my english is not that good😀


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  9. I’m so pleased to find your blog as well, and shocked that our paths haven’t crossed before (I’ve met Jankari at blogging events too!) I no longer live in Morocco, but I still cover it for Global Voices Online (www.globalvoicesonline.org). Your blog is absolutely wonderful – please, if you know of other young Moroccans blogging in English, let me know! I’m always looking for new blogs to highlight.

    Best,
    Jillian


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