In a few hours, I will be off to Miami .. but not to escape the cold and snow and bask in the sun. Nor will I indulge in some shopping.

In Miami, I will be attending WeMedia, along with a convoy of colleagues from Global Voices Online - some I have had the pleasure of meeting before and others who I am looking forward to meet for the first time.

And that's not all - as the who's who of media and the blogging community will be present and the array of workshops, sessions and networking opportunities will be a truly educational opportunity.

If my journalistic skills are no longer rusty and if my 15 years with a newspaper instilled in me any discipline, and if old habits really die hard - perhaps, just perhaps, I might be able to live blog some of the sessions. Rest assured, I might as well... just to see if I can still type faster than I think...

As much as I am excited about the conference, I am really annoyed I won't have anything to say about our progress, openness, climate of democracy and freedom of expression.

What do I talk about when people ask me about the blogging situation in the region?

Do I tell them that a Saudi blogger next door has been kidnapped by the authorities and is being held for articles he published on his blog? That he is still being held for questioning more than two months after his arrest and that no formal charges have yet been filed against him?

Do I tell them that our ministers of information have just met, under the auspices of the same barren Arab League, and decided to further strangle our propaganda-riddled television stations with a new code of ethics ... to apparently safeguard our traditions and values .. and further stifle freedom of expression?

Would they be interested to learn that as human beings, we are still subjects and are yet to aspire to become citizens with RESPECT, rights and duties in our own countries?

When they exclaim that I must be oil-rich, shall I tell them about the poverty, beggars and slums in Bahrain? Shall I tell them that while the UAE and Qatar have both almost doubled the salaries of their subjects, a doctor in Bahrain, makes around the same salary as a janitor in New York?

Or do I tell them about Egypt, which was one day the beacon of the newspaper industry, and which today takes the lead in the number of bloggers arrested?

Shall I dare mention that it was only last week that Morocco had sentenced a blogger to THREE years in prison for a joke? That Syria harasses and arrests bloggers too and that once upon a time, a brave Information Minister was appointed in Bahrain, and whose only legacy was to order bloggers to register their blogs with his ministry?

Shall I stoop as low as to tell them that my country one day banned Google Earth and continues to censor the Internet; that online forums are censored as are the sites of some political "societies." And if they raise their eye brows and ask "Societies?" shall I tell them that political parties are banned in my democratic country? Shall I tell them that gerrymandering was exercised to perfection to ensure that our Parliamentary elections were fair and square? Do they really need to know about sectarianism and how some people are more equal than others?

Sigh .. I think I will just enjoy the sun, smile and shut up! I might still live blog some sessions though.


Joeprah said...

Best wishes at the conference. It sounds like a great opportunity. You talked about some disturbing events in this post. I have read many blogs written by Egyptians and have known about the many arrests, but the others you spoke of interest me. Do you have links? So disturbing to hear how these things still transpire. I am glad I know you through blog land and that you keep me informed.

Post a Comment

Copyright © Silly Bahraini Girl