Archive for November, 2011

Call Homs, Syria (and wish them a Happy Eid)

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This week Muslims celebrate the festivity of Eid Al-Adha, that commemorates Abraham´s sacrifice. In this year of revolutions, uprisings and changes, this festivity means even more for Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa. People in Syria, after months of unbearable loss due to the regime´s brutality, do not have much to celebrate. The town of Homs, where the uprisings began, has seen peaceful demonstrators killed every day since mobilizations began, and they continue to struggle against opression while they bury their beloved ones.  These days are a great occasion to show them support and solidarity, and we can do that through an awesome campaign organized by a group of Syrian expatriates who encourage people to do this:

1. Dial 0096331, then dial 7 random numbers

2. Say “Happy Eid”, or “Eid Said”, or “Eid Mubarak” + the country where you are calling from

3. If you know Arabic you can definitely say how you feel about Homs and share your best wishes for the town and for Syria. Please don´t mention anything political or that can be used against them.

The campaign is already huge and lines are collapsed sometimes, but I just managed to reach a Homsi home, and a sweet lady answered. I told her I was very proud of Homs and wished them the best. She kept saying “Shukran shukran shukran”.

Here´s an audio of a Saudi man who did the same thing. It´s very touching to hear, and for those who don´t understand Arabic, here´s the translation:

Salam Aleikom/ Aleikum Es-salam / Who´s talking? / This is Mohammad AlMudhem, from Saudi Arabia / Oh, son, you got the wrong number, / Yes, I know, sister. I´m calling you randomly,  to tell you just one thing. /Tell me, dear/ We stand with you in solidarity, with all our hearts /God bless you, my son/Listening to you makes me very happy, sorry to disturb you, I just wanted to wish you Happy Eid / God bless you, my son! / Best wishes and I hope you stay safe / Who´s talking again? / This is Mohammad Almudhem / God bless you, best wishes and longest life to you/ But tell me about you, is your family ok? / Yes, we are, thanks so much, God bless you, God bless you!

Follow the event on Facebook and the #CallHoms hashtag on Twitter.

Free Alaa. And Free Egypt.

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#FreeAlaa #Egypt #NoMilTrialsI met Alaa Abd El Fattah a few weeks ago at the Arab Bloggers Meeting in Tunisia. I interviewed him for the Spanish news-site I contribute to, Periodismo Humano, and he shared his insights on the role bloggers performed during the movilizations in Egypt and the challenges ahead.  A few weeks later, Alaa is in prison for allegedly “inciting violence”. Facing military trial, he has refused to answer questions in order not to grant it legitimacy. The Egyptian military has tried tried more than 12,000 civilians since January, when Egyptians toppled Mubarak.


When I asked Alaa about the role of bloggers during and after the revolution, he mentioned how bloggers and online activists have been key catalizers of the demands of other members of Egyptian society. They have echoed the demands of trade unions, teachers and other professionals, whose voices are not normally covered by mass media, and have been at the forefront of defending human rights in the country. Alaa and all others demanding freedom, justice and an end to emergency law are being persecuted today just as they were during Mubarak´s dictatorship.

The Egyptian military has received approximately $1.9 billion of US taxpayer money since 1979, according to EFF International Director of Freedom of Speech Jillian C. YorkAll of us hoping for a free Egypt (and a free Bahrain, and a free Syria, and a free Yemen…) demand and end of military trials and an end of all international support for this institution. International efforts, after months of praising the legitimacy of citizen demands on the region, should focus on supporting free speech and granting the rights of all citizens. Free Alaa!

Free Alaa (Flickr), #freealaa (Twitter), Free Alaa (Access campaign)