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For the Preservation of Cyber Freedom - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Tried in an open court in which video footage of the crime was shown, an Egyptian police officer was convicted of sexually assaulting and torturing an Egyptian driver. [Imad Abdel Karim was detained in Bulak al Dakrur station 18the January 2006].

As I read about it, I could not help but feel admiration for the Egyptian bloggers who took up the case, disclosing and highlighting many facts including prison torture, all of which they actively launched a broad campaign against.

Despite various crackdowns on bloggers in which they were subjected to bans, physical assault, detention  and a four-year sentence in the case of blogger Abdel Karim Suleiman  bloggers can pride themselves in knowing that their efforts have begun to bear fruit. Still, the road up ahead is a long one that is full of challenging obstacles.

Let us closely examine the vast outlet that the Internet provides, and how that matter has become one that concerns and disturbs various governments and states, which did not stop at blocking websites and furthermore sentenced bloggers to long prison terms. Iran sentenced blogger Arash Sigarchi to 14 years in prison for defaming the Islamic Revolution.

In Syria, while the regime remains jubilant over President Bashar al Assad garnering 97.68 percent of the votes, seven young bloggers are awaiting trial for publishing articles critical of the government on the Internet. Prison terms may be as long as 15 years.

There is an abundance of these examples around us. One must not overlook Amnesty International’s most recent report that warned against a potential and radical change that would impact the Internet if action is not taken against the deterioration of freedom online. But such repression is not confined to the imprisonment of bloggers and the blocking of sites; rather, it extends to collusion between major internet companies (such as ‘Google’ and ‘Yahoo!’ others) and governments so that increasingly more governments are able to use net filtering to control websites.

There is no questioning the universal need to remove all obstacles hampering freedom of expression through the action of independent organizations and associations. The growing number of bloggers and websites that dedicate their efforts to monitoring societies and criticizing their political reality has become the means employed in this age for knowledge and communication  despite the many drawbacks of violence, sex and extremism.

They are facts that reflect an increasing tendency among individuals to obtain actual accounts in which reality prevails over delusions and stereotypes, ones that the traditional media outlets still cannot completely overcome, as opposed to the Internet.

Within this same course has emerged a proliferation of websites that reject prevalent religious interpretations and practices without accountability, which is a matter that breaks through major taboos in our societies.

The Internet has contributed to the emergence of an open society that has become more than just a need in our contemporary world. Can you limit you culture and knowledge to the press and television?! I think not.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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