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Arab women tweet to survive

Female, Arab activists spoke up at a conference in Copenhagen this Monday. As cyberactivists, they spend most of their waking hours tweeting, blogging, and Facebooking about the Arab revolution. For one of them, the constant updating is a way to stay secure

During the Arab Spring, a new group of female activists has emerged. As ‘cyberactivists’, they participate in the revolution by constantly tweeting, blogging, and facebooking about it.

Monday, 10 May, the Black Diamond was the venue of a conference about them: Cyberactivism – A conference on social media and the Arab women in the uprising.

»We are ordinary people, but we are young, and we use social media to make the revolution a success,« says Afrah Nasser, one of the participants from Sana’n in Yemen.

Blogging fundamental

Afrah tells the University Post that especially the title of the conference, with reference to social media and Arab women, resonates with her: It reflects what she is. For the last three years, she has been an active blogger both in Arabic and English.

»Blogging used to be a hobby, but now it is fundamental to me,« she says.

There is no doubt the Arabic countries have been inspired by each other. Afrah claims that she was not active in political issues until the revolution started.

»I’m a participant in the revolution. I work as a journalist, and after work, I go out on the streets and demonstrate. Then, I go home and blog about it, as an independent blogger«.

Equal rights

»The main issue in Yemen today is to fight for freedom of expression, and equal rights for all,« Afrah says.

According to her, it is crucial for international society to advocate the Arabic uprising. But international media should hear about Yemen from the Yemeni people themselves – not from people outside.

Yemen is, together with the other Arabic countries, considered not-free on the Freedom House analysis of press freedom.

Strategy for to keep safe

Many of the speakers have been beaten, arrested and oppressed because of their protests in cyberspace.

In Yemen, the government, in contrast to several other Arabic countries, has not shut down blogs. But that does not mean that being an activist is safe. Afrah has a strategy: Constantly posting and writing on the web.

»I keep tweeting, blogging, and facebooking. The more I put myself out there, the better. If I haven’t posted anything in six hours, my phone starts ringing, because people are worried something happened to me«, Afrah says.

uni-avis@adm.ku.dk

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