Saturday, September 22, 2007

Blogging and Empowerment in Jordan

Writing at Pajamas Media, Jordanian journalist Natasha Tynes explains how the advent of blogging has empowered her country's citizens to defy censorship and begin holding government bureaucrats accountable:

I grew up in Amman in the early 1980’s, an era characterized by a notable lack of democratic processes or any form of freedom of expression.

As a child and young adult, I regularly heard about tragic incidents that happened to family members and friends on a regular basis: mistreatment at hospitals, embezzlement, discrimination, unchecked domestic abuse, corrupt government employees, basic human rights violations - you name it.

We Jordanians would hear about such events, get distressed, and do absolutely nothing, swallowing our pride and moving on regardless of the scars left behind. It was our survival mechanism. We had no choice but to move on since no one would listen and we were always worried about the harsh repercussions of speaking up.

Times have changed. I was thrilled and excited recently to see a group of Jordanians speaking up and rallying for a cause in an organized manner that yielded tangible results.

The campaign took place on the Internet, a medium which is having an impact in developing countries with mediocre democratic records, where speaking up online (using an alias in most cases) helps reduce or eliminate possible repercussions like jail time or a hefty fine.

The Jordanian Blogosphere Comes of Age

Empowering ordinary citizens to speak out is essential to ultimately transforming the authoritarian political culture that fosters Islamist extremism.


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