Showing posts with label blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blog. Show all posts

May 1, 2011

Saudi Bloggers Face Stringent Restrictions

In a country like Saudi Arabia in which media is controlled by the Kingdom, blogs have become an alternative source of news and opinion in recent years. Saudi is ranked second in the Arab world for having the most bloggers, trailing only behind Egypt. According to BBC, the number of Saudi bloggers (both male and female) was between 500-600 in both English and Arabic.

Like many other Middle Eastern countries, Saudi Arabia is restrictive in its blogosphere. In 2008, Fouad Al-Farhan, a well-known blogger was arrested for his criticism of the government’s corruption and his call for political reform. In 2011, in the wake of uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries, Saudi government enacted stringent new regulations forcing bloggers to register and obtain government licenses in order to publish online. According to this law, all Saudi news blogs and electronic news sites now must be strictly licensed, and are required to “include the call to the religion of Islam” and to strictly abide by Islamic sharia law.

Human rights activists and bloggers have reacted to government’s decision on limiting freedom of expression. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CJP) is already concerned about the new regulation, which was issued at the beginning of 2011. The CJP has voiced its concerned and has asked the Saudi government to listen to its bloggers and respect their freedom of speech.

Feb 8, 2011

I blog, therefore I am

Have you ever heard the saying "I think, therefore I am?" Well, that is a philosophical phrase said by Rene Descartes, a 17th century French philosopher. He simply wanted to demonstrate his existence and to prove that he is capable of thinking, therefore he is alive. I've twisted the phrase to "I blog, therefore I am."

Today, we are in the 21st century and to simply regurgitate what Descartes has already said, we get a palpable meaning of "I think, therefore I am. It goes beyond its existentialism definition. Perhaps Descartes was trying to explore the reason of existence philosophically, but if he had lived today and been able to observe the changes in today's world, he probably would have said something different.

He would see how much the world has changed and, with today's powerful mass communication tools like the internet, everyone has the ability to express themselves and demonstrate that they are because they are able to think and create things. We, as human beings, should be different from other species on the planet. What is that? That could be our identity, the identity that Descartes wondered about and inspired him to say that "I think, therefore I am."

That is what we are, therefore I am; I am to think, to be productive, creative, and innovative. I am because I can think, I can create, I live better, I change things, I can help others and that can bring changes to him or her. Therefore, I am. I blog about the people, culture, society, and politics, because I am. I blog to express myself, to prove that I am, to prove that I can still think, write, and be creative. I blog to let people know how and what I am thinking. I blog because I am interested in politics, culture, and, more importantly, in the issues of the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Aug 2, 2009

Learning Online Journalism and Writing Blogs in Helmand Province

Note that this article was first published in the (direct link of this interview)and if you reproduce this article you must retain this notice.

Introduction: A surprising number of Afghans blog on the Internet and even more want to learn how. Nasim Fekrat has been at the forefront of helping Afghans use modern technology to communicate with each other and the rest of the world – but it can be a dangerous business.’s Jane Morse talked with him earlier this year while he was in United States on a fellowship (see: Eager to Learn About the World, Tech Savy Afghans Turn to Blogs.) In a new guest post, Nasim talks about his latest efforts to teach blogging in Helmand province, the largest in Afghanistan and the world’s top opium-producing region. The province is the site of ongoing deadly fighting between the Taliban and American, British and other NATO troops.

This is the sixth day that I am in the war-torn province of Helmand. My friends in other provinces do not know what I am here for, and before I explain it to them, they ask me, “What the heck are you doing there?”

I am in Helmand province to conduct a training session on online journalism and blog writing. We had planned for owners of 20 media outlets to participate in this two-day training session, but we received more applications than we expected. We were unaware that we would get 28 people for the training session, including reporters, poets and writers.

You may think that we had everything we needed for the training class, but we did not have everything. We had just two computers that connected to the Internet and we had 28 journalists. Every one of them required the Internet during the training. It may be unbelievable for readers or funny to them, but we did it. Every one of the participants had a blog entry by the end of the training session and had posted two subjects on their blogs. Almost all of the blogs were written in Pashto (one of the official and most common languages in Afghanistan) and discussed subjects such as culture, literature, community, politics and agriculture in Helmand province.

When I asked the participants what made them participate in the training, our discussion taught me something new. One of them, who was familiar with Wikipedia, told me: “I want to inform people about Helmand province.”

He said that whenever he goes to the Internet site to search Lashkargah (the capital city of Helmand province) and Helmand province, he only finds results that center on drugs, war and violence.

Therefore, he is learning to utilize blogging in order to inform the world that Helmand is not a place of drugs and war but has agriculture, culture and literary works which have not been widely publicized.

One of the participants told me that he wants to discuss the security challenges in Helmand province using blogging, and he wants to hear opinions from other bloggers concerning the operation in Helmand province and find solutions for the conflict in this province.

The enthusiasm for the training was more than expected and the reason for that is clear: This is a war-torn province and nobody is willing to put himself in danger in order to conduct training for journalists. But for me, as a young Afghan from the generation of war victims and refugees, I love to serve my country and my fellow citizens. I want to teach them the things that I have learned. I like to spread the culture of blogs and online journalism in Afghanistan among the younger generations.

This was the third workshop on blogging and online journalism which was conducted with the support of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the blogging Institution of Afghanistan in Helmand province. This program has been scheduled in other provinces and the next workshop will be in Bamyan province.

Read more about Nasim’s efforts at his English language blog, Afghan Lord at

You can see his photo gallery The World Through My Eyes at

Additional photo galleries by Nasim can be found on NATO’s website, as well as at

Aug 1, 2009

Eager to Learn About the World, Tech Savvy Afghans Turn to Blogs

Note that this article was first published in the (direct link of this interview)and if you reproduce this article you must retain this notice.

Afghan blogger teaches others his craft

By Jane Morse
Staff Writer

Washington — Tech-savvy Afghans increasingly are turning to blogs for information about their country and the world. They also use blogs as a platform for telling their stories about Afghanistan to the world, says Nasim Fekrat, one of Afghanistan’s trailblazing bloggers.

Although Internet penetration is not high in Afghanistan compared with other countries, since 2002, some 20,000 Afghans have started blogging, Fekrat told Fekrat, who blogs under the moniker “Afghan Lord,” estimates that at least 1 million Afghans access the Internet through Internet cafes and at local schools and universities.

Fekrat discovered blogs in 2000, when only two Afghan expatriates — one in Canada and one in the United States — were blogging in Farsi. He e-mailed them requesting more information and then taught himself how to use the medium. In late 2002, he launched his first blogs featuring his poetry and discussions of classical music. Later, he included discussions about events in Afghanistan as well as philosophical issues.

In 2008, Fekrat taught blogging workshops in Kabul and Bamyan. Approximately 40 people attended the three-day workshops. They shared 10 computers Fekrat was able to rent with funds he raised from donors over the Internet. He hopes to raise enough money to repeat the classes again this year, sharing what he learned during his recently completed three-month fellowship at the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke University in North Carolina.

Barack Obama’s deft use of Internet tools to send his message to voters, raise money and ultimately win the U.S. presidential elections profoundly impressed Fekrat. “This can be a model, a lesson to Afghanistan for presidential elections which are coming in a few months,” he said.

Afghanistan’s presidential elections are set for August 20. According to NATO officials, nearly 16 million voters have registered to vote — about half the country’s population.

That an African American won the U.S. presidential elections is “a big lesson” for Afghans,” Fekrat said. Afghans, he said, “should build up the determination to end inequality and hatred toward each other.”

“When I go back [to Afghanistan],” Fekrat said, “I will tell [my blogging students] about the media and morality. I’ll tell them how we can’t have exactly the same thing [as in the United States]; but with what we’re able to learn, to transform in [an] Afghan way; not in a very traditional way.

“We can change,” he said. “We can bring a picture of different models of Afghanistan.”

Many Afghans never learned about democracy, according to Fekrat. “Rather they heard communism, socialism, equality, Marxism, those ideas based on Marxist theory.” Compounding the problem, he said, is widespread illiteracy. “Those people, who never heard democracy, freedom, freedom of speech and human rights … they have to have an idea, a description of democracy that they never had,” he said.

“The meaning of democracy was not transformed in the context of Afghan meaning, Afghan knowledge, Afghan language,” he said. For many of the uneducated people, he said, democracy means little more than women discarding their head scarves.


“The new generation is not the generation of Taliban,” Fekrat said. “The new generation — they are simply about learning. … They want to connect themselves to the world.”

Blogging and the Internet won’t reach Afghanistan’s illiterate poor, and Afghan society, Fekrat acknowledged, is highly controlled by tradition, religion, differing tribal customs and fear of retribution. Even so, there is a core population of young people interested in change, according to Fekrat.

Afghans who blog enjoy a lively forum for discussion, Fekrat said. “They’re talking about elections, presidential elections. Hundreds of articles are published in Web sites. There is debate among them. They’re discussing the issues,” he said.

“I’m sure there are lots of misunderstandings, misconceptions and biased information from Afghanistan,” Fekrat said. If given the proper tools, young Afghans could provide a more accurate picture of their country, Fekrat said.

Although Fekrat blogs in both English and Farsi, the vast majority of Afghans blog in Farsi. But Fekrat would like to see the viewpoints of the Afghan people reach a wider non-Farsi speaking audience. His plan is to teach Afghans to do video interviews and podcast interviews with subtitles in English. Once again, he’s hoping to raise the funds for the video camcorders by soliciting donations online.

“You can find lots of Nasims like me in Afghanistan; lots of people will contact you and talk to you. You can learn a lot from Afghan society,” Fekrat said.

For more, see Fekrat’s Web sites in Farsi and English.

Dec 25, 2008

The Fight of Nasim Fekrat in Afghanistan

This post is written Philippe R. in Courrier International, you can read this in original version in French language. My friend Jean-Baptiste Perrin translated into English.
With his personal blog Afghan Lord, Nasim Fekrat, 25, is a real fighter. His country Afghanistan has been on the front page of Western and foreign media for so many years, at the heart of what is called "the fight against international terrorism." In Kabul, Nasim fights too. With his own weapons and for a cause much braver and more difficult: freedom of expression.

Nasim Fekrat is an Afghan journalist, internationally recognized for his blog Afghan Lord that exists in English and Farsi. In 2005 already, Reporters Without Borders has awarded him its first prize to reward his work, his courage, his commitment. Afghan Lord is currently competing for the best South Asia blog 2008 awarded by the Brass Crescent Awards, oriented towards the Muslim world's blogosphere. Most recently, Nasim Fekrat won the 2008 Information Safety Freedom (ISF), received in Siena in Italy.

Nasim Fekrat has more than deserved his "trophies" of defender of the freedom of expression. This very freedom, he conquered it thanks to the Internet. He is an Afghan proselyte for blogging: he created the Afghan Press online journal and founded the Association of Afghan bloggers. Both in two versions, English and Farsi.

In its latest post dated December 14, Nasim Fekrat explains better than anyone why he won the 2008 ISF prize, as a militant for an Afghanistan open to the outside world.

"Digital Afghanistan was in my plan to foster an interest in digital media among young people in the Universities, schools, institutes and journalists. Digital Afghanistan was very important for me because I believe this is the only way we can tell our story to the world. Presenting Afghanistan through digital world is a job for new generation, not for those were involved in war, for those who were involved in massacres, those who plant opium but this the new generation that can tell to the world the reality what they believe and streaming in their live daily. They are the sources of truth and honest, they are tired of war, they are not the generation of suicide anymore."

Nasim Fekrat was awarded the ISF prize jointly with Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, an Afghan boy whose death sentence was commuted to 20 years in prison. His crime? Having read an article on the Internet.

Dec 2, 2008

My Farsi Blog Hacked Again

My Farsi blog was hacked once by someone who called himself Aljera7, Saudi hacker but this time it is worse. I don't know what is going wrong with the host and my blog. The only thing i have access is the domain which is registered with but my blog which was hosted with, since five days i don't have access to it nor i have the info login.

Just a few days before this happen, i was receiving the below message periodically but i ignored because i was thinking that they want to steal my password. But when i saw my account was suspended and the host gave me this reason which they received similar e-mail that i did.
I don't know who should feel responsible, the host instead to solve the problem and feel responsible to provide security, they blocked my account. Please let me know if you can help me with this i am getting mad. Read the below message which caused to block my account.

I work for and represent Westpac Banking Corporation.

Please be advised that we have received reports of Phishing website(s) at
the following URL(s) being used to illegally obtain the login details of
Westpac Internet Banking customers:

As at 06:50 29/11/2008 (AEST) these URLs resolved to the IP address(es) of
for which you are listed as an abuse/support contact. We would greatly
appreciate your prompt assistance in:

1. Zipping any relevant files from the folders below and forwarding these
to for investigation
2. Immediately shutting these sites down or removing the phishing related
3. Checking for other compromised web accounts on your servers which may
also contain the same files
4. Checking for and fixing any security vulnerabilities which may have
contributed to the creation of these phishing pages

We believe the purpose of this webpage is solely to commit fraud against
Internet Banking customers and in the absence of any response we reserve
the right to take this matter further. In case of the need for further
investigation the Australian Federal Police and AusCERT have also been

Please contact me as soon as possible via the email address to let me know when this site has been removed.

If you are not the correct person(s) to deal with this incident, please
forward this request to the appropriate person(s).

For tracking purposes please include "[CDAR #9580]" in the subject line of
any correspondence.

Dec 1, 2008

Afghan LORD In Competition

Afghan LORD has been nominated under the “BEST SOUTH ASIAN BLOG” category for the Fifth Annual Brass Crescent Awards in 2008. It would be great if you vote for your humble Afghan blogger.

How to vote?
Please browse the Brass Crescent page and go to the bottom of the page, look at the second category from down, there you can find Afghan Lord, you have to click where to select the blog then go to the lowest page, enter your e-mail address, before you have to tick mark this option: "
I certify that I am only voting once for the Brass Crescent Awards". Finally click to submit your vote.
Check your inbox, an approval will be send to your e-mail address with a link, in order to complete and your vote submitted please click on the link.

Voting Directions: Use the form below to select one nominee from each category. We will ask you for your email address to confirm your vote, but don't worry - we will discard your email address after votes have been tallied.

What is the Brass Crescent Awards?
The Brass Crescent Awards, a joint project of altmuslim and City of Brass, is an annual awards ceremony that honors the best writers and thinkers of the emerging Muslim blogosphere (aka the Islamsphere). Nominations are taken from blog readers, who then vote for the winners.

Jul 23, 2008

When bloggers talk to bloggers

I wrote this here already

It seems that bloggers always looking for bloggers. It happened for me when I heard about Stefen Niggermeier, a famous media journalist and blogger. I was very interested to meet a successful German blogger. His blog is called BILDblog, it observes and takes the role of a watchdog in regard to the largest newspaper in Germany, the tabloid “BILD”, as it regularly points to errors in the paper. His blog received several prizes.

Having dinner and chatting with him and asking him about why he became a blogger was an interesting moment. Stefan believes the best way to practice free speech and to write is blog. “In your blog you don’t have to be worried about the text length, you don’t have to consider the editorial advice and those principals which are asked normally from the editor of the newspaper”, he said.

Mr. Niggermeier also shared his experience in blogging: “Blogging is easy, just start, if you have word, just put it together and work in a specific way, you will be a famous blogger”.
In this way he became a blogger, as he said, playing with buttons for bloggers, but finally he had a blog and today he is one of the most famous bloggers in Germany.

Jul 1, 2008

The Second Round Blogging of Workshop in Bamyian

Already published here

Under the auspices of Association of Afghan Blog Writers, the second round on blogging workshop was held for tens of Afghan journalists and writers in ancient city of Bamian. This workshop was underway from June, 12 to June, 15. First workshop of this series was previously held by the Association of Afghan Blog Writers in Kabul for journalists, university faculties, students and teachers.

Two western and three Afghan teachers participated in the latest round of blogging workshops. Mr. Martin (German journalist) who was supposed to teach in the first day of workshop, unfortunately failed to do so due to an illness. In the second day, first hours were dedicated to theoretical issues, in which Mr. Jeffrey Estern (young American journalist) approached weblog phenomenon from a western and modern-world perspective. Mr. Jeffrey compared visual and print media with blogging and evaluated the influence of blogging on public opinions, politics and other media, and said: “In our country, i.e. United States, along with three constitutional powers, Media is the fourth power which monitors activities of government. However, there was no body to supervise the media. After years and with the introduction of technology and internet, Weblog came into existence. Today, weblogs supervise the media, so that there have been several cases in which bloggers revealed misinformation of some prominent journalists who were consequently fired from their positions.”

After some theoretical discussions, the rest of the second day was dedicated to practical issues. According to directors, main goal of such workshops is to turn this new phenomenon into a public one so as to ensure that everybody practices the right of free speech with no censorship. Since increasing pressures of Information and Culture Ministry has led to more censorship by e-media and private TV channels, weblog may be a better choice to experience free speech as well as institutionalizing this principle in the Afghan society.

This was the second blogging workshop held in Afghanistan, and Association of Afghan Blog Writers is supposed to run similar workshops in other cities such as Herat, Mazar- Sharif, Jalalabad, Kandehar, Bamyian and Daikundi.

Blogging is an absolutely new phenomenon in Afghanistan and most of the people do not take it professionally. Therefore, such workshops directed by Association of Afghan Blog Writers may speed up the process of professionalization and facilitate it for Afghan bloggers. Today most of the youth and students have turned to this phenomenon. Though having access to internet is very problematic, the Afghan youth increasingly turn to weblog and blogging, and the number of Afghan weblogs is increasing. Up to now, more than 20,000 Afghan weblogs have been registered by Afghan people in various countries and through various blog service providers, such as Blogger, wordpress, Blogfa, Persianblog.

Barriers to the Way of Afghan Bloggers

Afghan bloggers have to deal with a wide range of problems. Due to recent controversies over Dari (Farsi) and after two correspondents in Mazar-e Sharif were sacked just for using Dari equivalents of ‘University’ and ‘Student’, Afghan Telecom has blocked two popular Persian blogger sites: Persianblog and Blogfa. Some believe that such acts are the continuation of fight of Abdul Karim Khoram(minister of Information and Culture) against Dari Persian.

On the other hand, there is the problem of power shortage. In spite of Hamid Karzai ruling for several years and presence of International Community in Afghanistan, Kabul inhabitants still do not have access to power. Power is available only 6 hours per day, and suffers fluctuations. This problem may be a big barrier to the way of Afghan bloggers and prevent them from updating their blogs.

Help Promote Free Speech

Directors of the project believe that turning this new phenomenon (i.e. Weblog) into a public issue between Afghan youth and writers can help the free speech and institutionalize democracy in Afghanistan. Today many emerging journals claim ‘independence and being free’, but they are unfortunately so associated with political trends and parties that practically come to experience self-censorship. Very often it happens that they fail to publish critical papers. On the other hand, Afghan journals and media have taken an opposition stance and the only thing they may criticize is the government, while there is a myriad of hot and sensitive issues happening all around Afghanistan neglected by such journals and media. Weblog enables the writer to publish his thoughts and criticisms freely and independently, using either real name or nom de plume.

Jun 9, 2008

Upcoming Blogging Workshop in Bamian


I am preparing to go to Bamian to launch the second round of the Blogging Workshop. I had a little money left from the previous and first ever workshop in Kabul, which will serve for materials, renting computer lab, internet, transportation and stationary.
I hope this won’t be the last workshop on Blogging, because of financial problems. I appreciate the friends and people who helped us for the last workshop. I hope our friends and people who are really concerned about Afghanistan and digital media, and especially in the blogging spheres will help us.

We are going to bring together young people, journalists, students and people who are interested to blogging, in order to bring changes, in order to give news out of Afghanistan, in order to fight for freedom of speech.
I kindly ask people abroad to donate to us, and help us to fulfill our goals towards freedom of speech. I am sure, the small donations will be used for us to rent internet and a computer lab for teaching Blogging to journalists, students and for new generations who will bring changes for Afghanistan.

The second round of the Blogging workshop will be Thursday, June 12th and will continue for three days. In the last few months I regularly received phone calls from journalists, students, university teachers and people in Bamian who work for NGOs, they were asking me to go there to teach in the Blogging workshop.

I have already announced on behalf of Association of Afghan BlogWriters that those whom are interested to attend the blogging workshop, should start applying for the course. In one day we received 49 applications which were a lot more for us but we accept only 25 of them. So we had to close registration already.

For our Blogging workshop we rented a computer lab with 15 computer connected to internet, therefore we should ask for students to share their computer, otherwise we are out of capacity.
I hope this workshop will run well so we can come closer to fulfill our goal to promote blogging in Afghanistan in order to help digital media and support freedom of speech.

Just this morning I heard that Abdul Samad Rohani, a young journalist who was working for BBC for the last year, was found dead in Helmand. As an independent journalist and blogger I share my feelings and support his family and friends. This is shocking news for Afghan media and freedom of expression, especially for those journalists who work independently.

Feb 14, 2008

The first Afghan Penlog blogging workshop in Kabul

The Afghan Penlog will launch its first blogging workshop in Kabul very soon.
Cultural developments and increasing digital media are the goals of this workshop. The first blogging workshop will take place for students and bloggers in Kabul. Afghan Penlog also decided to launch its workshops to other provinces like Jalalabad, Kandahar, Heart, Ghazni and other parts of the country will be the next steps.

Afghan Pen Log is calling all cultural activists and friends for making donations to reach the goal of blogs development because this Afghan Penlog does not get any financial support from anywhere. We are calling our friends in abroad or in Afghanistan to join us for this important matter with making their donations.
Pen Blog will publish the donor's names on its website and will give them the whole details of its activities and costs.

Buying a generator and paying the cost of Internet is the most prominent need for us now.
We don't have money to pay the rent of computer lab for this purpose. But we probably will be able to run the workshop in Payam-e-Noor, a private educational center located in Karte-Chahar Kabul. We still need some money to pay to manager of this organization for this purpose.
We were planning to buy a computer and an Internet line from Afghan Telecom but we could not reach our goal because of not being able to get any donation and our voice broke in our Throat.
That's why we decided to leave the idea. Now we just want to run educational workshops.

Please open the attachment and fill out the form and return to us. You can also read the Dari version of this announcement here if you have problem in opening the attachment you can download the form from this link:
http://kabulsky. com/application- form.doc
For more information please contact us at:
info@afghanpenlog. com

Afghan Association Blog Writers
Kabul, Afghanistan
info@afghanpenlog. com
www.afghanpenlog. com
www.afghanpenlog- en.blogspot. com

May 25, 2005

Vote for the first Afghan blogger to win the Blog Awards!

Vote for the first Afghan Blogger!
An Afghan blogger who blogs from inside Afghanistan is selected to International competition of Freedom Blog Awards in RSF.

Reporters Without Borders is calling on Internet-users to vote online for award-winners from among 60 blogs defending freedom of expression. There are six categories: Africa and the Middle East, the Americas, Asia, Europe, Iran and International:

Blogs have become significant sources of news for millions of Internet-users. blogs can relay comments, articles and opinions that are not necessarily broadcasted by the major media. Although, weblogs are not a major medium of communication in Afghanistan but this demonstrates Afghans endeavor for freedom. Sohrab Kabuli (Pen name) has paid heavily for free expression.

Please take a moment and register your vote here:
To Vote:〈=en
To Vote:〈=en

Select the "shared Pain"(; enter your E-mail address – it’s compulsory.

Each Internet-user may vote for only one blog in each category. Please note: your vote will only be counted if you click on the acknowledgement of receipt which will be sent by email. Voting closes on 1st June 2005 and the prize-winners will be announced two weeks later.

Related materials:
Afghan Journalists Awarded for their hard work towards free speech
Free Kambakhsh!
Eventi a cui ha partecipato Nasim Fekrat - Audio
Nasim in Val di Susa
Una mattina a Siena per la libertà in Afghanistan- Video+picture
Tactic: Afghan blogger wins free speech award

Why I am the Freedom of Expression Award Winner?

Afghan Lord awarded the freedom of expression blog awards in Reporters Without Borders.