Posts by: Mohamed ElGohary

An Egyptian veteran blogger.Global VoicesLingua manager.

Ten Years on Global Voices: My First Translation and Other Reflections

Tagged by Gabriela Garcia Calderon

I can’t believe it is 10 years already. I joined Global Voices as an Arabic translator in February 2009. Back then I was a bilingual blogger, writing about Egyptian affairs as well as web2.0. Still, a student, though with a part time online job, I had enough time on my hands to contribute as a translator. At that time I didn’t have much translation experience, I only read a lot in both languages. My editor who welcomed me to Global Voices was Yazan Badran, probably the first real interaction with a Syrian. I learned a lot from Yazan, linguistically and also how to accept changes to my writing.

My first translation was about Gaza. Palestine to me before Global Voices was something I only read about in mainstream media, and you will never to get to know details about conflicts from mainstream media. They are only shortened to numbers. Through Global Voices I learned how that every conflict have a sea of people, everyone has their own life, memories, happiness and pain, and you may or may not be able to know how they felt, even for a third culture kid as I am.

Global Voices assured what I thought as the need for networking in the MENA region, expanding from Egypt. After I began blogging in 2006, I spent a big portion of my time networking Egyptian bloggers, till they reached tens of thousand of bloggers. But when I joined Global Voices, I discovered something among Egyptians that we share with our fellow Americans (on average): We don’t know anything about the rest of the world. Even among intellectuals, it is hard to know someone who follows Sudanese affairs, Syria, or Mauritania. Stereotypes about the Gulf and their petrol preventing us from networking with activists there. While the most successful organization is the Arab Interior Ministries council, organized against Arab activists.

Global Voices community, a very diverse community with all kinds of backgrounds across the whole world, assured my views above about the importance of communication, collaboration, and exchange, and not to stay away in silence. I wish all the power to Global Voices community, to be able to make the world a better place. I would like to thank every GVer I met, for every time that happened I learned something new, and this is something invaluable to me.

Collaboration by Chris Lott

Collaboration by Chris Lott

About Seif, About Bassem, About Myself

I don’t know how I’m keeping myself sane with all that’s happening in Egypt, I seriously don’t know. We, revolutionists, lived, are living, and will live experiencing jailing and murdering our friends. We lived, are living and will live experiencing people who we thought were friends. We are suffering the death of loved ones, old and young.

Ahmed Seif El Islam

Ahmed Seif El Islam

First it was Bassem, then Seif, and unfortunately more to come. We live everyday to the fear that we, or someone we love, is in danger. If not dead, then in jail, and when in jail, we hope they stay sane, and worse, to stay alive. How we are enduring this is something I don’t know.

Every day I keep asking myself, how are am I sticking to the belief that pacifism works, how it work, did it ever work, will it ever work. Why should people who believe in Peace and Justice in Egypt must feel the pain, the pain of jail, death and betray. I keep trying to suppress the urge to create a militant group and kill them all. It is really painful, emotionally draining, life sucking, teary life we experience when we lose someone, temporarily or permanently.

I think the only thing that keeps me sane now is being in love with a girl who has the biggest heart in the world, and forget everything when I am with her. Only this fact is what diverts my mind from going through self-destruction mode. But every time someone I know is gone the pain strikes back, like an old injury opening up, bringing every tiny emotion back to my heart. I don’t want to live this again, I don’t want to keep experiencing this, and I don’t know what to do.

My Thoughts On #Gaza

I have been asked recently about my thoughts on Gaza several times. Though I’m trying not to follow anything more than I can handle lately, given the turn up of Revolution in Egypt, another story. But anyway, here is my analysis of what usually happens, from a very personal, non-expert at all, point of view.

"People finally managed to enter #Khuzaa today and discovered the extent of the destruction. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel" tweets photojournalist @Lazsim

“People finally managed to enter #Khuzaa today and discovered the extent of the destruction. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel,” photojournalist @Lazsim tweeted.

All Gaza wars goal, specifically the last one, is to win Israeli votes. So the sequence is as follows:

2. Bomb
4, Continue as much as possible, till Israeli causalities reach the media
6. Work with Egypt’s government to crush Palestinians by closing the borders.
8. Votes flow in for elections or to stabilize the cabinet, even when the Israelis think that Israel didn’t really win. (Do people really think there can be winners anymore in wars? Who’s the loser now?)
And this goes on cycles, the only difference, this time, is Israeli media arm is beginning to fail, but on the ground, there is no difference. Many friends of mine in Gaza lost their homes and/or families and I’m not able to even say a word of support, the same as my feelings for what’s happening in Egypt, like Alaa puts it, of no hope and no despair. What words could be of comfort when I can’t even remotely hold myself together. This is not a “Russians love their children too“, it is a “Tear Down The Wall“.

Anonymity values freedom over fear

The following post is an essay written by yours truly at the end of the Internet Governance Capacity Building Program (IGCBP).

anonAnonymity is derived from the Greek word, anonymia, meaning “without a name” or “namelessness.” It is used for various purposes: charity, activism, art, press, and also criminal activities. The conversation and conflict of interest between the security apparatus and concerned citizens each time a new means of communication is developed, continually increasing as technology advances over time. The more sophisticated technology gets, the more advanced anonymity becomes, and the more challenging it is for Internet service providers to be in line with privacy laws in some countries. This challenge also provides more opportunity for the security apparatus to be more controlling and thus the situation for them becomes more critical and challenging.

Anonymity offers a safe haven to activists for the freedom of expression and oppression against minorities. Activists can use tools like Virtual Private Networks (Wikipedia, 2014) aka VPNs, TOR, secure email (Wikipedia, 2014), KeyScramblers (TechRepublic, 2010) and other secure means (Google Play Store, 2013) of communications, in attempts to cover their tracks to hide from authoritarian governments, like in the cases of Egypt (DemoracyNow, 2011), Syria (NewScientist, 2012) and Tunisia (The Atlantic, 2011).

Anonymity preserves user privacy, as defined and structured in EU data privacy laws. For example, Facebook—which has terms of services that requires users to use their real name to create an account—has been challenged by a German court ruling demanding Facebook to alter their TOS to be in line with German privacy laws that allow anonymity, with Ireland following suit. Facebook is criticising this approach, calling it a waste of taxpayers’ money (WSJ, 2013). Data privacy via anonymity is available in services like YouTube via face blurring (YouTube Blog, 2012), as well as Google Street View (Google Street View Privacy and Security policy, no date).

Minority groups, like religious minorities as well as the LGBT (EFF, 2014) community, often find themselves under oppression, either social and / or from the state. The last resort of these communities is the anonymous online world, where they find the ability to freely organise and discuss their issues away from eyes and ears of their oppressors.

Anonymity greatly limits security risks (EFF, 2010), as any technology with backdoors will always enable a third party. This third party can be the security apparatus, and also gives the chance to intruders to abuse this kind of data. This data can range from biometrics of citizens to highly sensitive officials to military secrets.

Business wise, users’ data should be protected by anonymity, especially credit cards information and users’ purchasing habits (EFF, 2010). Or else the business, as well as the consumer, will suffer economic losses when the user information falls into the wrong hands. This kind of security breach can put the whole economy in jeopardy. The FBI directly investigates these kind of breaches even outside their own soil, as they did in Egypt. (Egypt Independent, 2009)

Anonymity is a big supporting factor for innovation. As EFF puts it: Facebook and Skype would be dead if the government built a system that surveilled everything online. (EFF, 2010)

Anonymity can increases the quality of discussions in online platforms, as found in research by Disqus (Disqus, no date) which concluded that 61% of 500 million comments were posted under pseudonyms and they were “liked” more than “real name” commentators.

Anonymity also supports voting integrity (EFF, 2013), because if voters’ identity were known this could eventually lead to compromising the integrity of any poll or elections, and would greatly influence voters. In scientific studies, reporting results when describing individual cases should be done anonymously. (Jacob Palme and Mikael Berglund. 2003)

On the other side of the debate, anonymity greatly reduces the ability of advertisers to reach their targeted markets, such as in games and social networks, as they won’t find enough relevant data to direct their campaigns. Anonymity also allows bullying and defamation with impunity in discussion groups (Guy Clapperton, 2013). It can also erode credibility in arguments (Dan Gilmour, 2009). In the worst cases, anonymity is a disguise for criminals to carry out malicious acts.

I find myself supporting anonymity on the Internet, for the following reasons. Anonymity values freedom over fear, and I think a truly democratic and healthy society should always value freedom over fear. Fear characterises societies living under authoritarian regimes and oppressive societies, a kind of oppression that will also hinder academic and business innovation, and will eventually lead to violations of human rights.

Most researchers, speakers and academics who voice themselves against anonymity place their judgement based on a specific case they witnessed, such as bullying, without proving through enough data, as the resulting crime might have many other factors that are hard to research, like psychological factors in character and psychological environment.

Regarding the point of criminals using anonymity for covering their tracks and preventing the security apparatus from investigating crimes, a study mentioned that in the US in 2009, the US government reported only once the need to break the encryption out of 2376 wiretaps resulted from court orders, (Wired, 2009). Even in that case, investigators were able to continue the investigation without breaking into the encryption. This study defies any point made by governments or researchers that criminals make good use of encryption to protect their criminal activity, and defies governments’ calls for backdoors to eliminate anonymity.

In the end, NGOs and activists should push back on governments’ and security apparatus’ efforts to put backdoors to eliminate anonymity as this only serves granting more authoritarian powers to both democratic and authoritarian governments, crippling human rights, freedom of Internet, academic freedoms, governments’ transparency and accountability—as well as technological and business innovation online and in the real world. This can be done in some sort of coalitions as well as lobbies that are formed after the formation of these coalitions, to push the parliaments of the world to prioritise not only state security, but also human rights preservation

-VPN [Wikipedia] (2014) Available at [Accessed 09 February 2014]
-TOR project (no date) Available at [Accessed 09 February 2014]
-Pretty Good Privacy (2014) Available at [Accessed 09 February 2014]
-KeyScrambler: [TechRepublic] How keystroke encryption works to thwart keylogging threat (2010) available at [Accessed 09 February 2014]
-TextSecure [Google Play Store] (2013) available at [Accessed 09 February 2014]
-RedPhone [Google Play Store] (2013) available at
[Accessed 09 February 2014]
-Democracy Now (2011) Digital Darkness: U.S., U.K. Companies Help Egyptian Regime Shut Down Telecommunications and Identify Dissident Voices available at [Accessed 10 February 2014]
-NewScientist (2012) Assad masses Syrian cyber army in online crackdown available at [Accessed 10 February 2014]
-The Atlantic (2011) The Inside Story of How Facebook Responded to Tunisian Hacks available at [Accessed 10 February 2014]
-WSJ (2013) The Debate Over Online Anonymity available at [Accessed 10 February 2014]
-Official Youtube Blog (2012) Face blurring: when footage requires anonymity available at  [Accessed 10 February 2014]
-Google (no date) Street View Privacy and Security policy available at [Accessed 10 February 2014]
-EFF (2014) Digital Freedom Is an LGBT Issue available at [Accessed 10 February 2014]
-EFF (2010) Eight Epic Failures of Regulating Cryptography available at  [Accessed 10 February 2014]
-Mohamed ElGohary (2009) Phrying the online Phishers Egypt Independent 25 November available at [Accessed 10 February 2014]
-Disqus (no date) pseudonyms research available at [Accessed 10 February 2014]
-EFF (2013) Supreme Court of India -- Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails Must Be Used available at [Accessed 10 February 2014]
-Jacob Palme and Mikael Berglund (2003) Swedish Institutionen för data: Anonymity on the Internet available at  [Accessed 11 February 2014]
-Guy Clapperton (2013) E&T Magazine: Debate: Should we have the right to anonymity online? available at [Accessed 11 February 2014]
-Dan Gilmour (2009) The Guardian -- Comment Is Free: No name, less credibility available at [Accessed 11 February 2014]

Check out the paper here.

Support This Unique Teen Approach Towards Alternative Education

My friend and Global Voices colleague, Danica Radisic, has an amazing son. His name is Vuk Višnjić, You can know more about him here. He has been interested and active in pushing for alternative education and educational reform for a couple of years now. Since his 11th birthday in 2010, he has been working to open a non-government organization that would not only promote alternative education and educational reform, but that would provide alternative education for kids, teens and youth  in Belgrade.
He turned 14 in December and is now legally able to be the founder of this NGO himself. He and his mom just filed the papers for it and expect to be registered next week.
Vuk seems to understand the magnitude of the undertaking he has just imposed to himself. Oddly enough, the fact that he will have a full-time job with this every day after school only seems to amp him up more.
To make a long story short, they have started a crowdfunding campaign with Vuk and his friends to try to raise the hefty amount necessary just to open a youth center of this type. I am writing now to ask you to please spread the information as far and widely as the Internet and your personal connections will allow you. The more shares the campaign gets, the more likely it is to be featured globally by Indiegogo, which will certainly help in raising funds.
I’m exceptionally enthusiastic for this project as it coincides with The Workshops mission. So here’s the link, please share and RT and do let them know what you think:

A letter to Global Voices

This is the second and last post for GV Board Elections posts.

As I became elected to be the staff representative in Global Voices Board elections. Global Voices staff are heads of Global Voices’ departments (i.e. Global Voices, Rising Voices, Advox, and Lingua) as well as heads of editorial and translation team (i.e. regional editors, language editors and Lingua editors). I send the following letter to Global Voices:

Dear GV,

I can’t express how thrilled I am to have your votes, which express your trust and emphasize the responsibility I now hold, for achieving better communication, better representation, and more robust contributing-flow among Global Voices staff; GV sectors heads as well as GV regional, language, topics and Lingua editors.
Thanks again everyone!

Lots of love,

Why I’m running for the GV Board Elections

This post will be a first in the series for GV Board Elections posts.


I would like to be on the board to help in pushing Global Voices position forward in:

  1. Social Media expression by helping editors and authors cover more under-represented areas and people on the Internet, while at the same time making it less time and effort consuming and more fun.
  2. I also want to assure GV’s position as innovation platform through more utilization of Rising Voices, helping it to be a more important player in the field of training individuals and communities in need.
  3. I would help in making Lingua be a language enriching and preservation platform, and
  4. support Advox to be an umbrella for online advocacy communities around the world.

After contributing for Global Voices for 5 years, as a volunteer and as staff, I know that Global Voices has a great potential to be a leader in these fields.

You can know more about me here, and you can also submit any questions in the comments or in this form.

Like all nonprofit foundations, Global Voices is governed by a board of directors. You can see the members of the current board at
The current Global Voices board of directors comprises nine seats. Two of these seats are reserved for the founders of GV (Ethan and Rebecca), three for members of the GV community and four for other individuals of the board’s choosing.
The GV board meets once each quarter, i.e. four times a year. Most meetings take place by conference call.
The four external board members are nominated and selected by the current board. The GV community board representatives are elected by the GV community.
The GV community seats are currently occupied by Claire Ulrich (staff representative), Jillian York and Marta Cooper (volunteer representatives). They were elected to the GV board in March 2011.
With the exception of the co-founders, the term of office for all GV board members is three years.
The GV community board representatives exist to ensure that the interests of GV community members are served by the organisation. They’re basically the community’s spokespeople at board level. As such, they should be in regular touch with the GV community to listen to and familiarise themselves with your opinions and concerns.

Creating Digital Rights Blogs and NGOs Database & Blog Aggregator

Arabic version here.

During the fourth Arab Bloggers Meeting that I attended recently in Amman, Jordan, an idea of an independent project struck me. The project should be aimed to build a database of all NGOs, websites and blogs specialized, or have a specialized section, in digital rights. This database will be in the form of a blog aggregator using a WordPress blog, for the purpose of republishing rather than publishing in itself.

The target of this aggregator is NGOs and bloggers interested in republishing content. The final goal is making the circle of bloggers and trainers bigger than it is right now, as well as establishing a more networked community than it is right now. What inspired me to this idea is the lack of knowledge and organization among the digital Egyptian society in specific, and in the Arab Digital Society in general. As we, digital activists, do not know each other, and in case we knew each other, we do not follow what we do. This eventually leads to many lost opportunities for cooperation.

Another reason for this project is the extreme centralization of activism. So, for example, many activists know what is happening in Cairo (Not even the rest of the Egypt), and to a lesser extent what is happening in Syria. Nobody knows what is happening in the Gulf, like Bahrain, UAE, and Saudi, or in North Africa, like Mauritania or Morocco or Algeria, or even Tunisia, the Bouazizi country. I also wonder a lot, what should be the motive for non-Egyptian activists to be in solidarity with an Egyptian suffering human rights violations in their countries, while we, as Egyptian activists, do not know or do no care what is happening to non-Egyptians in Egypt and beyond?

I’m not saying this is the fault of non-Egyptians, I understand the exhaustion we are suffering since the end of 2011 till now, but I’m aiming through this simple project to be a step towards making the circle of bloggers and trainers bigger. To increase their networking as well as the opportunities to know the real needs. How to use the Internet to deal with real needs. I think this issue gets really challenging when there is no “real” networking between activists from across the region.

I put here a form for all NGOs and bloggers who are interested in being in the blog aggregator:


On a serious note on #AblaFahita

If you were not following Egyptian affairs last few days you should read this piece, as according to AP: “Prosecutors have questioned officials in one of Egypt’s largest telecommunications companies (@VodafoneEgypt) over an online advertisement featuring a puppet (called Abla Fahita), which a controversial (pro-government activist, not a blogger, so much for AP reporting) blogger has accused of delivering a coded message linked to the Muslim Brotherhood group, the company said Wednesday.” More is available on the WP.

Tortured #AblaFahita doll

Tortured #AblaFahita doll

On a more a serious note, earlier in November Bloomberg published that “Telecom Egypt May Buy Vodafone Local Division When 4G Is Offered“. Personally I don’t want for this acquiring to happen, since it will decrease/eliminate competition in mobile/4G emerging market. Egypt is a very hungry market for Internet and with current cap in DSL lines as well as failing infrastructure in sub-urban Cairo (filled with wireless telephone lines, which are not ready for even DSL, only same-old-Dial-up), 4G will be a damn big market.

The million dollar question here, as Vodafone actually wants to buy the government stakes, is this BS accusation a dirty step for blackmailing/forcing Vodafone Egypt to comply to what the government wants?

URGENT Call of Action: Solidarity needed with Mahinour ElMasry and her fellow detainees

From Fatma Emam’s blog.

Apparently, this country decided to show us more and more of its ugly faces. I am writing this post in solidarity with the fierce fighter Mahinour ElMasry. Mahinour is sentenced to jail for 2 years for peaceful protesting. Mahinour is one of the first victims of the notorious protesting law, with hinders the right of assembly and many other rights. The regime understood that the masses in the streets are the makers of change. They are trying to cartel them again, to imprison them with a wicked notion of “persevering the stability and peace of the society”. Those in power forget that the main reason for unrest is INJUSTICE, DESPOTISM, TYRANNY, and POVERTY.

Mahinour was protesting peacefully, in front the court, defending Egyptians’ rights to be safe from torture and the right to bodily integrity. She was protesting on the day of the trial of our revolution icon, Khaled Said.
Khalid died by savages from the so called police. His death was the fuel of #Jan25 and ironically enough his murderers are getting exempts over and over again, and Mahinour is the one to be in jail. What kind of tragedy are we living in?
I call upon all the believers of justice in the world to show their support to Mahinour and her fellow detainees.
Mahinour struggled on many fronts, for the prosperity and peace of this country.
I have been once privileged to be near this heroine when she hosted us in her project in her hometown, Alexandria, to talk about Nubian affairs in Egypt.

2013 Year in Review

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