Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.
Gihan Ibrahim (Arabic: چيهان إبراهيم), is an Egyptian journalist, blogger and socialist activist born on December 2nd, 1986 in Cairo, Egypt who went to school in Long Beach, California, USA. She has been credited as being a part of a new generation of citizen journalists who have documented news events using social media. For this she was featured on a cover of Time magazine as being one of the leaders of the Tahrir Square uprising during the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. However, Ibrahim says that while the internet was important for coordinating people in the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak that it was the battles on the streets that were crucial and were their power that enabled the revolution. Ibrahim graduated from the American University in Cairo where she earned a political science degree. Before going to the university, Gigi never had direct links to any worker protests or opposition movements that had previously been occurring in Egypt. It was when she attended a lecture on Social Mobilization under Authoritarian Regimes, where her future husband Hossam el-Hamalawy was a guest speaker, that she gained insight about activism in Egypt. The contact with el-Hamalawy, a member of the Revolutionary Socialists, was what led her to decide to join the movement. Aside from Time Magazine, she has also appeared on Frontline, the BBC, Al Jazeera and The Daily Show.
Ibrahim was also was featured in a documentary by award-winning journalist Inigo Gilmore. The production followed her from the earliest days of the revolution, looking at her life not just in Tahrir Square, but also at her home commenting on the reserved view many upper middle class Egyptians initially took in regard to the revolution. The documentary Gigi's Revolution was aired on the PBS Network in the USA. She is critical of other Egyptian youth activists such as Wael Ghonim, who called on protesters to go home after Mubarak had ceded some power but refused to step down as President. It had all started with the call for a mass protest on the 25th of January. There was a list of demands, including a minimum wage concession and the right to build independent unions that would actually represent workers rather than having the state-run unions. Obviously, there were democratic demands such as the end of the Emergency Law, dissolve parliament because of the rigged election in October of 2010, to detain the Interior Minister Habib al-Adly over his involvement with all the torture cases and police brutality that peaceful protesters had faced on a daily basis. There was also a call for Nazif’s cabinet to resign and to reform the constitution for presidential elections. The revolutions slogans were Bread, Justice, Equality and Freedom. Under each slogan there was a list of demands, for example, for Bread it was minimum wage and to make food prices match wages. There is a great disparity when people earn 99 Egyptian pounds a month and a kilo of tomatoes costs 10 Egyptian pounds. This disparity was growing, and with it, anger was growing as well. Food prices are going up and the wages haven’t changed for decades – the national minimum wage is still 35 Egyptian pounds - the same it was in 1957.
Armed with little more than her Blackberry and a webcam, Ibrahim went from the comfort and safety of her high school years in California to Egypt where she recently earned a political science degree from the American University in Cairo. Making use of Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Vimeo, Ibrahim tweeted and posted, shot photos and captured video all in an effort to chronicle the unrest that surrounded her. In a Skype interview with The New York Times, Ibrahim said her role
"...is to be part of this wave of change. I tweet a lot while at the protests; I tell everybody the security situation, how many people are at protests. I'm trying to spread accurate information and paint a picture at ground-level for people who aren't here, via Twitter and Facebook."
Her smartphone lacks an Arabic keybord, but she said "a lot of my followers are from outside of Egypt and I want to try to use a language that most everyone would understand. It's important for me to be a citizen journalist, because with our press here - not everything gets broadcast."
The Egyptian government, clearly shocked by the unrest had shut down Internet service to much of the country and was attempting to block outgoing TV broadcasts. Nevertheless Ibrahim was managing to Tweet fairly regularly. In one she wrote:
"All my social networks and my sms are working via phone but I am blocked on my laptop. Hmm... isn't that opposite from everyone?"
After first spending much of her childhood in Egypt, Ibrahim attended high school in Anaheim, California, and later Orange Coast College. From there she transferred to the American University in Cairo, where she received a BA in political science, with a minor in sociology. In California, she demonstrated for immigration rights with the Collectivo Tonanzine and fought against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. She also took part in pro-Palestinian stands while in college. Since moving back to Egypt in 2008, Ibrahim was closely involved in social mobilization against the Mubarak regime, working for anti-emergency law, anti-police brutality/torture, and anti-censorship of press, as well as demanding justice, equality, democracy, human rights, and solidarity for the Palestinian cause. She has also been active in the labor movement, demanding minimum wage, free-union associations, and workers' rights for different sectors, particularly in Cairo. The use of social networks was of great help to her in exposing the truth and mobilizing others to end the authoritarian regime. Her family is part of the Egyptian elite, but 24-year-old Gigi Ibrahim says she's fighting for her country's future. With thousands following her Twitter feed, Gigi has become something of a celebrity in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
"I lost many friends. I saw people killed in front of me. I have a good friend who lost both eyes. Another great companion lost his right eye. The counter-revolution is deliberately blinding the revolution, they are deliberately targeting less lethal ammunition in the eyes of the protesters, and despite all this, the mobilization is growing. There is also growing a very strong feeling against the military, especially after what happened in the football match between Al Ali against Port Said. They were trying to create chaos and did not prevent any of those hired assailants to attack the protesters to open the gates for them and closing the gate of the people who were being attacked to prevent them from escaping. That's why more than 70 people died. The Military Council and the police orchestrated it. You're not going to any football match without being searched. How these people had weapons? It all happened right under the eyes of police and military, and they have not avoided detection. The Muslim Brotherhood had much participation in the former regime, which still exists, as does the Military Council itself. They have been a group from the beginning. Many people in leadership are businessmen and professionals with vested interests. They only use Islamic rhetoric to mobilize the masses and this is normal in a conservative country. But when we look at their practice policies, we see that they are no better than Mubarak's party, and in fact they are the same only with a beard. They first are businessmen and capitalist opportunists who will do business with whomever is in power..."
Harassmap is about ending the social acceptability of sexual harassment of women. It is a website where women can report incidents of sexual harassment and where it happened. Legal aid, psychological counseling and other services can be accessed by contacting the New Woman Research Center and the 16 member NGO task force on the website. Volunteers go in pairs to neighborhoods with high incidences of harassment and talk to shop owners and others to explain the problem and ask for their help in making their neighborhood intolerant of harassment. They can make their shops safe zones, they can pledge to speak up when they see harassment happen and they can talk to others in the neighborhood.
The Tale of Two Nazanins is the true story of two women named Nazanin who both were born in Iran. One was a highly successful Canadian in the midst of a remarkable career, the other a frightened teenager languishing on death row in Iran. The book is about how an email brought them together and changed their lives forever.
In 2006, Nazanin Afshin-Jam had just signed her first record deal after having lived in the limelight for being first runner-up for Miss World, a beautiful sought-after fashion model as well as being a highly intelligent and well respected icon within the Iranian dissident community. But one day she opened an email that would dramatically change the course of her life. The subject of the email was about another girl named Nazanin who was a Kurdish girl facing a death sentence in Iran, as punishment for stabbing a man who had tried to rape her. Her name was Nazanin Fatehi and Afshin-Jam quickly came to the girls defence, entering into the world of international diplomacy and confronting the dark side of the country of her birth, with its honour killings, violence against women and state-sanctioned execution of children. While Fatehi languished in prison, experiencing conditions so deplorable she attempted to end her own life, Afshin-Jam worked desperately on the campaign to save her. The Tale of Two Nazanins weaves together the lives of these two women - one leading a life of glamour and opportunity, the other living in fear and abject poverty. She mounted a campaign which fought for justice that, if only for a moment, brought the Iranian regime to its knees. The Tale of Two Nazanins is an inspiring story of the bonds of sisterhood which speaks to the power of every individual to initiate and participate in bringing positive changes in the world.
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Iran is the only country in the world that 'officially' executes children. According to the United Nations, a child is a person under the age of 18. Despite the fact that Iran has signed International Covenants that forbid them to execute anyone who has allegedly committed an offence before the age of 18, they continue to do so. Since 2005, Amnesty International has recorded 28 executions of child offenders. Currently, there are at least 141 minors on death row in Iran. Time is of the essence. Together we will make them STOP the execution of minors! Sign the petition at www.stopchildexecutions.com to help to save their lives.
Yabanci is a book by a Dutch woman who moved from Holland to Turkey to start a new life in a Turkish village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A great read for those who are considering a move abroad or have lived in a different culture. Available in English as an ebook or in Dutch in both print and popular ebook formats...
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