Showing posts with label workshop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label workshop. Show all posts

Jan 28, 2011

Blogging workshop photos in slide show

Here are some pictures in slide show that I've been taking for past years, roughly between 2003 and 2009. Most of those recent-uploaded pictures are from my workshops that I have been teaching blogging and online journalism for Afghan youth. The workshops have sporadically been taking place between 2006 and 2009. I thought it worth to put them in slide here on my blog as to showcase my works on digital Afghanistan. I'm still working on a project to develop blogging in Afghanistan, hopefully, soon, I will come out with some good news.

Anyhow, I'm inviting you to observe these picture from very a volatile and insecure zone like Helmand to quite secure places like Herat, Bamiyan, Kunduz and Kabul.

Sep 4, 2009

Meet Afghanistan's Biggest Blogger

From: FP Logo

At this point, the litany of contemporary Afghanistan's problems is well known. The country has few paved roads, let alone computers; its population is poor and illiterate; it is blighted with poverty, disease, and violence. For the past 30 years, Kabul has been under the control of radicals, strongmen, foreigners, or some combination of the three. Only rarely can the foreign reporters who describe these conditions leave the safe bubble of Kabul or the back seat of an armored vehicle. As a result, Afghanistan's people, culture, and traditions remain woefully unknown to the world, or reduced to crude stereotypes.

"People outside of Afghanistan have no idea what really exists here," a deep-voiced 26-year-old blogger named Nasim Fekrat says. "I was searching for Helmand [on the Internet] the other day. The only things that came up were about terrorists and suicide and bombs. But there is another side to Helmand, another face. There is agriculture, art, museums, culture."

On his groundbreaking blog, Afghan Lord, Fekrat hopes to tell that to the world. Writing in Farsi as well as self-taught English, he has taken it upon himself to show Afghanistan's softer, more genuine face. Until recently, he feels, this face was nearly impossible to find.

"In 2004, a journalist friend of mine told me that he was using the Internet to search for an Afghan word. He kept on coming up with this picture of a dog -- an Afghan hound!" Fekrat says, laughing ruefully. "We didn't even know there was such a dog in Afghanistan."

Although he passionately hopes to bring Afghan art, culture, and music -- life, really -- to readers around the world with his blog, Fekrat certainly does not downplay the trauma of Afghanistan's recent history. Indeed, his life and his blog are very much a product of it.

Fekrat grew up in a religious family in a village in Ghazni province. His childhood, he recalls, was defined by hardship and alienation. In particular, the young Fekrat strained under the strictures of his father, who once raised his hands to the heavens and called on God to kill his son when he would not pray one evening. Fekrat was 11.

But Fekrat has always been strikingly intelligent, erudite, and resourceful. When he was a teenager, he fled to Kabul, then under the control of the Taliban. A local family took in the refugee and gave him shelter. Soon after, he found life there too onerous -- he gives no clear reason why -- and joined the peripatetic community of Afghan refugees moving from country to country. Along the way, he spent time in Pakistan, Iran, Pakistan again, and the United Arab Emirates.

While living abroad, Fekrat became a member of this literate and engaged, if disaffected, Afghan expatriate community. He discovered a profound love for poetry and classical music in spite of his lack of higher education -- he delightedly describes how he pulled together money to buy compact discs of sonatas, concertos, and religious music in the record stores of Islamabad.

Around this time, Fekrat also discovered the online Afghan diaspora. People applying for political asylum in the West, Fekrat says, started to find one another on the Web in Farsi and Pashto chat rooms starting around 1998. Fekrat was swept up by the virtual community.

"For me, the Internet became a portal not just for information" about Afghanistan and its people, but "literature, poetry, and music," Fekrat says. "And it did not just become a way to communicate. As much as I learned, I became more uninformed," he says, pausing to struggle with his English. "No -- that's not how you say it. When I'm online, I realize I'm not informed enough," he says, and chuckles.

In 2000, the year before the United States invaded Afghanistan, Fekrat contacted two people he found writing articles online in Farsi. They were both native Afghans applying for asylum and living abroad. In their online correspondence, Fekrat -- who had by then returned to his native country -- discovered blogging. It was a revelation. "I asked them how they were publishing online," he says. "And they said, 'No, no, it's a blog!' I went online and found the ready-made template. It was so easy. For me, it was amazing."

Soon after, Fekrat joined the nascent Afghan blogosphere. His first blog, founded in 2002, was an anonymous and sophomoric effort on poetry and music. Reading what he wrote, he felt dissatisfied with his work and changed his subject and pseudonym several times. Nevertheless, Fekrat delighted in expressing his own thoughts and feelings with a level of freedom virtually impossible to find in Taliban- or even U.S.-controlled Afghanistan.

Fekrat moved around between a few jobs in journalism, but it wasn't until 2004 that he decided to make blogging his vocation. Afghan Lord was born.

His first post reads, typos and all: "Who can believe that Afghanistan got its peace after an awful situation more than two ddecades war. The situation that human was killing human, brother killing brother, war lords were killing innocents people and lots of difficulties occurred in Afghan land. What was the reason? Who was responsible for all these? Who is guilty? Who was supporting them and armed them to kill each other for nothing? And what is going on now? To all these categories I will put my pen. I will try regularly post daily from Afghanistan."

It spoke to the trauma of the Taliban takeover, and the shock of the U.S. invasion. And it allowed Fekrat to begin speaking to the world.

Over the past five years, not only has his English improved in leaps and bounds, but Fekrat has found his voice as a writer -- aching with wonder at the beauty of his culture and the horrors of war. He posts mostly on breaking news events, interspersed with commentary on politics. But he also includes reflections on the joy of riding a motorbike, or a poem. As with so many blogs, it reads like an upload of the author's thoughts -- unadulterated, emotional, and sometimes contradictory.

Committed to life as a professional blogger, Fekrat became a more professional journalist as well -- and his profile quickly grew. In 2005, readers around the world voted for his blog for Reporters Without Borders' "Freedom of Expression" blog awards. His writing on occupied Kabul became internationally known; he bought partner URLs and expanded his Web presence. He started working for the BBC's Farsi edition and other journalistic outlets, including for international organizations such as NATO.

His career as a blogger has not come without danger, though. A few years ago, someone stole his pseudonym to post pro-Taliban comments. With his Internet persona and reputation compromised, he had no choice but to reveal his true identity. Since then, he has received numerous death threats in comments on his blog, and in text messages, phone calls, and e-mails. When I spoke with him in May, he was living on friends' couches, moving every few days to avoid men he believed to be following him.

Last year, a journalist he knew in northern Afghanistan was sentenced to death for allegedly making anti-religious comments on a Web site. But Fekrat thinks the security situation and the nascent community of those speaking truth to power is improving.

In 2006, Fekrat decided to take his blog community offline as well, and he created the Afghan Association of Blog Writers to aid the country's community of about 20,000. (An absurdly high number if one considers that there are only a few hundred-thousand computers in Afghanistan, most brought in by the United States or aid groups.)

As the head of the organization, Fekrat started meeting up regularly with other bloggers in Internet cafes. He decided to start teaching blogging as well, as those expatriate Afghan journalists had taught him. "I would ask people to donate just a few dollars," he says. "We would hire a generator so that we could run the computers at night. And then we'd turn on the Internet."

Now, he runs a blog school, teaching young Afghans about digital media, blogging, photography, and videography. It is his proudest achievement. "I show young, talented Afghans the Web. And now they have powerful tools to write about the situation, the society."

About a year ago, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul began funding Fekrat's blog school -- before then, he had sought donations on his Web site. The new-media guru now travels all over Afghanistan (usually on a motorbike) teaching remote communities about the power of the Internet and blogging. When I spoke with him last week, he had just finished stints in Helmand and Bamiyan.

This spring, he came to the United States for the first time, on the invitation of Joe Torsella, then the chief executive of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Fekrat ended up staying in the United States to learn more about digital media and culture on a three-month fellowship at the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke University. (He has a great video post of himself riding around the North Carolina campus on a pink bicycle.) And he may return to the United States to attend Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

Now, Fekrat sees an opportunity for Afghanistan to leapfrog the United States into the age of digital media. "Afghanistan is not in an era to experience print media," he says. "In the United States, [newspapers] are in a state of crisis. In Afghanistan, we shouldn't repeat those mistakes. The world is going digital. I found the world online. And I want to put Afghanistan online. Why wait? Why spend the money to fund a newspaper?" His dream is to continue blogging and running his small-scale media shop -- and, eventually, to find funding for a "for-Afghans, by-Afghans" think tank.

Although he welcomes all the funding and support he can get, Fekrat doesn't just blog for the NGO crowd; he is most encouraged that his writing is finally catching on with literate Kabulis and rural Afghans alike. "It used to be, when you talked with someone and said you were a blogger, people thought you're not doing something responsible," he says. "Because of the religions and minorities, you are always offending someone." But now people are much more open to user-produced media, and much more open to blogs and political commentary.

This growing acceptance has a lot to do with what has been happening next door in Iran and the role online media played in the recent disputed election there. "Our neighbor, in Iran, it is a big country for writing blogs. And that has impacted here in Afghanistan, because Farsi is a language spoken here," Fekrat explains. "People have realized that there is an audience, and there is a way to [disperse] information. Everybody here knows about what happened in the Iran election, and they know how the Internet and blogs changed it."

Of course, Afghanistan is facing an election of its own, and the growing Afghan blogosphere will have a role to play, however small in a country where only one in 30 has Internet access. "Before, people always had to ask 'What is a blog?', and that is changing," Fekrat says.

In the meantime, Fekrat's mission remains showing Afghanistan to the world -- and spurring Afghanistan to put itself online. I asked him what he hopes to achieve with his journalism and community-building in the next year. "We are people and we need connection. For you, Annie, to understand me as a human being, as an Afghan, as a human being who has feelings, love, hatred, and culture, is listening to the same music as Annie listens to."

That is Fekrat's goal. And to achieve it, all that needs to happen is for readers to visit his blog.

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.

Jul 11, 2009

Trip to Helmand

As we were about to land, suddenly the aircraft whirling round up and down in the sky, panic spreading through the passengers, an Indian who is sitting in front of me grabbed the backseat and looking on the right side.

A fighter jet was moving close to us. Brad who has called me in the plane that we are going together in media center told me this later when we were in the car towards PRT media center.

I never had this experience before, my mood was changing, almost nauseate. The aircraft bent to the right and start landing immediately.

After we got briefing and asked our blood types, we were asked to wear body armor and get into the car. The car drove in dust among several other cars that were divided to different directions.

I met Ben in PRT, who was my only contact. I had chance to check my e-mail and brows the news websites. Write you more here.

Jan 27, 2009

At Berlin Tegel Prison

The title may a little surprise you. You may ask yourself, what happened to Nasim that he ended up prison in Berlin. Maybe you will think that he is suspected of something because he comes from a country that provides 95% of opium to the world, and plus, there is a war going on.

I am in Kabul now, this post had to be posted already, but it was missing somewhere my computer. I was invited by the GTZ as a photographer for a photography workshop on November 7 to 14. There were six other photographers from other countries; Jodi Bieber from South Africa, Dörthe Boxberg from Germany, Stefan Erber from Germany, Elena Koktanek from Germany, Michael Tsegaye from Ethiopia, Leonel Vasquez from Colombia and two workshop leaders: Ralf Bäcker and Jörn Neumann from Germany.

Before going to the workshop in Berlin I had been in Italy where i received my freedom of expression award from Information Safety and Freedom (ISF) in Siena.
The workshop subject was “Developing security and security development” the central theme of for 2009 of the GTZ. For one day I was shooting in the main Berlin prison “Justizvollzugsanstalt Tegel”, which contains 1580 prisoners from 62 countries right now. Around 32% of them are foreigners.

It was early morning, when we arrived at the prison. The security guards at the main gate got our passports and in return a coarse card, not easy to bend, was given to us and we were demanded to not lose it, otherwise we couldn’t get out of the prison afterwards.

The doors and windows are built out of rigid steel and concrete structures, strong glasses are used for the windows and soundproofed rooms. Inside the control room are many monitors that show the area where the staff and prisoners are moving around. A burly security man suited in a dark blue suit, with written on his arm and back “Justiz” guided us around inside the prison. We were told not to photograph the prisoners or security guards, nor locks and keys. And we had to empty our pockets from money and electronic devices.

The buildings inside are surrounded by a barbed wire fence and in each corner cameras are controlling your steps. We were given two hours inside the prison, by the security guard who was with us. Me and my German colleague Elena definitely had to be clever to use our time as well as possible. Elena was excited to see the inside of the prison, me too. It was very important for me to see the prison in Berlin and to compare it to the Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul. It's a large prison in Afghanistan. I visited Pul-e-Charkhi prison and remember pretty well how horrible it was.

Now, I found myself in the biggest prison in Germany. I was looking for the meaning of Sicherheit inside the prison, in the Berlin streets, in the city with its skyscrapers and well dressed people with luxurious cars moving and people 'petting' with their best friends, which is not normal in Afghanistan and other Islamic states.

I had to find out now what Sicherheit means in this country, for the Berliners, for the people who work and earn money to live, for those who hope to have a shelter where to spend the night, for the many who survive.

This time Berlin became very interesting for me, but how to figure out its looks? I like this city, but how can I find myself if I would live there for a day? With this workshop I learned a lot, and also from the people who I met in the streets, at their work, and also the beggars who smiled at us.

The 44 years old security guard Rafael Galejew, who originally comes from Georgia, accompanied us. He works in the Justizvollzugsanstalt Tegel prison since 1994. Rafael carried a bunch of large keys. One was bigger than the others and I joked by calling it “the king key”. Yes it was a real special one, because he could open any door with it.

Entering the first building of the prison, and looking up to the walls painted yellow doesn’t give a sense of being be happy. "But for a prisoner" said Rafel, "yellow is a happy color". Doors are numbered together with their prisoner names. The stairs, door, and windows are netted with steel girders. While I tried to take pictures Rafael told me to not picture the prisoners. To have him trust me I showed my pictures to him every now and then and told him to do so as well after our tour. That made him happy and he told me he trusted me.

Time was running and we had to go to the next building, moving from the short term punishment prison to the lifelong imprisonments building. The 8 floors building contains over 300 prisoners who committed murder or similar crimes.

Another security guard joined us when we came on the fifth floor. We entered a cell of 2x3 meters wide, with a bed, tv, tape recorder, a toilet and lots of pictures of family, children, and relatives hanging on the wall of the prisoner who himself is outside and waving to us. But we can’t respond to him nor take pictures because we had been asked not to talk or get close to the prisoners.

In the entry hall of the building hangs a picture of a priest, the writings on it say that he was killed by the Nazis. Rafael commented, "The Nazis were the enemy of human kind, not only Jews."
I asked Rafael if there are any Afghans in the prison, and he told me that a couple of years ago there were a few, but now they are all released.

They have special meals for the Muslim prisoners, and however, "since 2000 the numbers of prisoners are decreasing" as Rafael described.

The reason for being in the prison and to look for the word of “Sicherheit” was because in the German concept, Sicherheit has no specific meaning. Many use it as 'security' and 'safety' which are not right translations in German.
As photographers from various backgrounds, but all coming from post-war countries, we had to find out the meaning of security in Berlin, where I don’t see police, or military convoys in the streets.

So, what does security really mean for Berliners here? But it is the question and the theme of our workshop photography.
We had to explore the city to find the meaning of security in the German context among Berliners and foreigners living in Berlin.
It was very interesting hearing the meaning of security in so different ways. For some, security is about money, or trust, love, or sex, profession, or travel, while for others it means to find shelter, to be safe.

Jul 31, 2008

Back to Kabul

I am in Kabul now. Over the last few weeks I was in Hamburg, Germany, for a Summer school on freedom and responsibilities in media. What a wonderful occasion and what wonderful people from 18 countries who I’ve met there. I miss all of them now and the only thing that remains with me are memories and pictures.

If this course was held in Kabul, it might not have been so successful and interesting. In Germany I had to learn every step, I had to learn about the people, cities and culture. I came back with lots of information and memories that I am now sharing with my friends who are coming to meet me.

One of the topics we had to work on was ‘dealing with the past’. Working with 8 people from different countries in one group on how we can deal with the past is not such an easy job. In most of the cases it is taboo to write about the past or it might not be so secure, or even dangerous. In a situation like Afghanistan it is very difficult to write about criminals and the warlords who are in power right now. But alas, in our class we never thought about the hows, and which methods we could use to write about our past. But now, I don't know what to do with these criminals who are in power and still threatening.
We only overviewed the history of Germany and the time when the Nazis committed genocide.

For several days, my heart was wounded. I couldn't imagine what happened to Jewish people there. But some times it was also very irritating when some of my colleagues were making funny pictures with the commemoration statue of a Jew who died from the severe conditions of living in one of the concentration camps. Maybe they had only eyes to look at the statue and the pictures around them. Maybe they only have eyes to look but have no heart to feel. May be most of us are like this, without doubt. Who feels our pains here? No one.

The Neuengamme concentration camp, close to Hamburg in northern Germany brings tears into your heart. You cannot believe how brutal and savagely those innocent people were killed. May be, this is an example of savageness of a period in history that reminds us to look back, to what has happened in the past. “We can not forget, but we can forgive always”, is a fine quote from Nelson Mandela.

Anyway, the workshop gave me the idea to build a group of researchers, to research about the massacre and genocide of the Hazara people of Afghanistan. In the 1880s in Afghanistan, King Amir Abul Rahman Khan committed a first Hazara genocide. Later in 2000, when the Taliban captured Mazar-e Sharif they massacred a number of 10,000 of the Hazara people, and when they captured Bamyian again they killed more than 10,000 of people. Today talking about the massacres and the civil war that took place in the 1990s has become a big taboo. If you talk about what happened during these times, you are labelled as an enemy of unity.

I hope to make a research-centre to research our past. This can also help Internationals because they can learn how many problems we had in our past. Unfortunately today, foreign politicians and those people who intend to favour Afghanistan and who are theorizing the construction of an Afghani nation-state don’t see that this will be a completely impossible mission. They have the wrong approach.

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.

Apr 9, 2008

For The First Time: Blogging Workshop in Kabul


For the first time in Afghanistan, a two days Blogging workshop was organized by the Afghan Association of Blog Writers. The participants were an Afghan journalist, a University teacher, a poet and writers from different provinces and of various ethnic backgrounds.

The main goals of this workshop are better access of journalists to weblogs and other digital media. Since Afghan print and internet media are of a very low quality, blogs could help the Afghan print media and become a milestone in the media situation in Afghanistan.

This was just the first blogging workshop in Afghanistan. The plan is to continue with more workshops in different parts of Afghanistan, including Herat, Mazar-e- Sharif, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Bamyan and Daikundi.

Cultural activities in cyberspace, theories of blogging, detailed similarities and differences between web sites and weblogs, and the techniques of making a blog were discussed in these two workshop days. And at the end, each of the participants independently opened their new weblog in cyberspace.

The world's famous weblogs, the best Persian blogs and the world most popular blogs were introduced to the group and the factors that make a weblog better were among the issues that were explained to the participants.
The participants were technically taught how to open a blog, managing, browsing, linking, ways of writing and the skill of making a framework for the blog.

The Persian blog providers such as 'PersainBlog' and 'Blogfa' were introduced. Afghans yet were familiar with 'PersianBlog' and 'Blogfa' as service providers, now this workshop helped them to learn about other powerful service providers like 'Blogger' and 'Word press'. All of the participants then built their blogs on Blogger.

Blogging is a new phenomenon in Afghanistan, and only a few people make professional use of it. Therefore holding such workshops for the first time by the Afghan Association of Blog Writers can speed up this process and facilitate the work of Afghan bloggers.

Blogging is new in Afghanistan and today most of students and youth start to use it. Even though there are many obstacles for accessing the internet, the Afghan youth refer more and more to this than before, and the number of Afghan bloggers dramatically grows by the day.
Around twenty thousand Afghan blogs have yet been created in cyberspace by Afghans inside and outside the country, and using different service providers.

Afghan bloggers have already faced many challenges and difficulties. The two Persian service providers 'Persianblog' and 'Blogfa' have recently been filtered by 'Afghan Telecom', the private Afghan Telecommunication Company.

Some people believe that this work of Afghan Telecom occurs in following the anti–Farsi/Dari efforts and thus deleting the Farsi/Dari words from the city billboards by Abdul Karim Khuram, Information and the Minister of Culture.
They claim that this is a bare break of the subscribers' rights and should seriously be condemned.

The electricity and internet are complementary of each other. But unfortunately, after seven years of the Karzai newly born administration and the presence of the International community, Kabul citizens still don’t have access to electricity. Internet was supposed to become nationally accessible, but it doesn’t. There are many Net-Cafés in Kabul, but because they are so expensive, a large number of the interested youth can not use them.

More about Blogging Workshop:

1) Afghanistan: First blogging workshop in Kabul

2) Blogging workshop in picture

3) Promoting Blogging in Afghanistan B.B.C

4) For the first time Blogging in Afghanistan- Radio Zamaneh

5) An Initiative which is going to change Aghanistan+Pictures

6) How Blogging Workshop was held?

7) They’re blogging in Kabul!- CIPE Development Blog

8) Tactic: Organizing a blogging workshop -

Related News about Blogging Workshop in Italian Blogs

1) Soldi spesi bene - Meri

2) Nasim e i bloggers di Kabul - Pino Scaccia's blog

3) Nasim Fekrat, un workshop sul blogging a Kabul - Pipistro

4) BlogFriends

5) BarBlog


7) Tre Puntini

8) Zomberos


Per la prima volta un blogging workshop a Kabul, Afghanistan- WIKIO