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French Version

Seeking freedom of expression - Jordanians explore blogging

“By observing the Jordanian Blogosphere, one realizes that unlike the politicized Iranian or Egyptian blogs, ours mainly tackle social issues with new perspectives that are neglected by traditional media, which tends to convey a false state of idealism,” commented Jordanian columnist and blogger Bater Wardam. After becoming frustrated with local politics, Wardam has decided to take his own blog to a more personal arena.

According to Wardam, those exceptional cases, which blog politics and are either opponents or proponents, apparently enjoy a high level of awareness and seek to make a positive change. However, he pointed out that their efforts will be perceived as merely a free expression of opinion, as there is no power capable of achieving reform as long as “the executive authority adheres to traditional mentality and the reformists’ efforts are aborted at Parliament, where several laws were greatly opposed but were also easily endorsed”.

Especially at such critical times when new legislations are being endorsed, such as the law on public gatherings, the number of bloggers is expected to rise significantly as restrictive laws lead people to seek refuge online.

“The problem is, some people still conceptualize politics as opposition; they believe that participation has to be synonymous with protesting and that’s it; yet, there are youth who are fully aware but lack a proper outlet. Had they found another space to share their thoughts, I don’t think they would have resorted to blogs,” said Abeer Abu Touq, a member of the editorial board at Ein, a diversified newspaper dedicated to Jordanian youth.

“The language barrier also creates a problem, as there is an immense need to have more bloggers writing in Arabic to communicate with the wider segment that doesn’t have the resources, financial nor cultural, to fully grasp the content of Jordanian blogs written in English,” concluded Wardam.

Blogger Muhammad Omar writes in Arabic as he isn’t concerned with graduates of renowned institutions; instead he targets Jordanians who have been deprived of such opportunities.

“The barrage of insults on the blog is attributed to a mentality that is afraid to speak out freely but finds cover on the Internet,” he said adding that his priority is to target those who resort to the “character assassination” when facing different views and to urge them to embrace diversity.

Farah Nimry, 18 years old, started her own blog entitled “observations of a Jordanian’’ a month ago. She was outraged by the series of crimes occurring in the name of “honor” over a short period of time; she realized that many people of her age didn’t even know the meaning of the term “honor crimes”, why they occurred, how the perpetrators are set free and how she could help combat them.

She seeks to focus on issues such as local politics, feminism, duties and rights of citizens. She admits that writing in English will limit the impact, but she adds, “If I can start with those who can read the blog, a change will be perceived, not necessarily immediately, but probably in the long run, there will be a positive change hopefully.”

“The audience of the mainstream media and the Arabic blogs are very much alike; they tend to have either black or white concepts, generally due to their adherence to traditions, religious beliefs, etc. By contrast, those who read other blogs have had the access to a wider space of information and have therefore developed better skills of dialogue,” explained Naseem Al-Tarawneh, who doesn’t necessarily seek the reform as much as he seeks to express his opinion freely on “The Black Iris” blog.

“We still miss the mechanism that enables a 25-year old to talk about politics and have an impact,” admitted Tarawneh, “yet, it could influence a decision maker who may happen to read the blog and get a glimpse of what is on the youth’s mind,” he concluded.

In a recent move that was reported as “rare’’ among leaders, HM King Abdullah II left a comment on “The black iris” encouraging the responsible dialogue embarked upon by Jordanians after the recent interview the King granted to Jordan News Agency, Petra.

“People must not be afraid as to use an alias to express their opinions. We are a country of freedom, tolerance, diversity and openness, and people have the right to express their thoughts—no matter what they are—in an atmosphere of respect, so long as they are not personally offending others, attempting character assassination or undermining the nation’s interest. Your comments only indicate how deeply you care about Jordan and its future and I am happy that we are partners in the development process,” wrote the Monarch.

Marseille,22July2008
Redaction
star.com.jo


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