Politicians and blogs – the very juxtaposition is enough to prompt cold night sweats and grimaces.
But in Algeria the two are united on a promising note as the political activist and member of the Peace Society Movement (Harakat Mudjtamaa Silm), Abdelkader Benkhaled, uses the medium to promote freedom and equality:
Blogging is a new method to spread human values that all citizens of the world seeks to acquire. I focus mainly on political issues that young people leave today. I also write about my party’s positions, sometimes critical and sometimes in defense and sometimes by seeking feedback from my friends on facebook or site visitors.
Nevertheless, I turn to other subjects too, such as public freedoms, democracy in Algeria. It is inconceivable to force people to adopt a particular religion or punish them for their political beliefs, trying to overcome prejudice to build a democracy or freedoms are respected. [Source]
Interestingly, Benkhaled indicates the Egyptian blogging experience as a source of cyber-inspiration:
In the Arab world, the Egyptian experience is a pioneer and deserves to be studied. The Egyptians were able to create political parties on the net that are sometimes stronger and more influential than the actual parties.
Moroccan bloggers were also able to create an association of influential bloggers, ditto for the Lebanese. Still, the blogging in the Arab world needs more guidance and support.
The above however, remains a perplexing snippet: though true to a degree – insofar as the blogosphere is an influential force in these countries – at the same time it bows under the weight of censorship.
In the case of Morocco, the authorities go to great lengths to intimidate journalists and bloggers publishing for change, as noted in a recent post.
And the case of Egyptian businessman and blogger Khaled Sa’id (right) is all too fresh in our minds.
Beaten to death outside an internet café by plain-clothes officers in Alexandria on June 6, police were trying to suppress a digital video that showed officers dividing up narcotics and cash that had been seized in a drug bust.
Said had hoped to post the video, which he had obtained from friends, on his blog in order to expose police corruption, family members said.
Thus, while blogging for change is inspiring, it is nevertheless fraught with opposition and danger.
Blogging needs not just guidance and support (guidance?), it needs freedom first.
Which Benkhaled will hopefully succeed in enacting tentative steps towards.