Posts by: Mohamed ElGohary
An Egyptian veteran blogger.Global VoicesLingua manager.
So, it has been a while since I joined Global Voices, first as a translator, then author, then Editor for the Arabic Lingua project. I always found the time I spent contributing to Global Voices rewarding, in every way possible.
It has been almost 2 years since I was first introduced by Eman AbdelRahman who joined the community previously. She told me about it several times but back then I was satisfied by being only a reader. It was until I found a post of mine referred to by Amira Al Hussaini in one of her updates, I can’t deny I was impressed by being noticed at that time, never expected that.
In the same time I was impressed by the Lingua project, how can a website constantly updated be translated into 20+ languages only on volunteer based efforts. I never even saw a commercial project with this size and this diversity in languages, people from all around the world contributing and meeting every now and then for organizing all the work, and at the same time, everything is just transparent, no “hidden agenda”, and almost with no bias.
After that, I applied to join the volunteer translators team in the Arabic Lingua project. With every post I read, everyone I translated, I always learned something new. I discovered how can this world be the same in many parts of it and still stay very diverse.
Then I became an author, though not very active, but seeing my posts translated into languages like Russian, Italian and Bengali and that things I write can be read by people who don’t speak my language, who speak languages I don’t even know, and live in countries I never visited…it is just amazing.
I enjoyed meeting people from every corner of the Earth. It is awesome when something happens anywhere and you know a person from the same place who call tell you more about it.
One of the best things I really appreciate is attending the Global Voices summit which happened last May in Chile. Enjoying my first 27 hours flight (my last flight was in 1998 and it only lasted 100 minutes), meeting people I knew online for a long time before meeting them in person. Enjoying a beautiful country far away from home. Realizing that knowing English doesn’t guarantee that the language bar is not there. It gave me a passion for knowing about the Spanish speaking culture and Latin America in general.
So…Happy birthday Global Voices, it’s six years old now. Good luck for many years to come in making more voices more reachable, and in facilitating more conversations between different corners of the world with all the diverse languages. Don’t forget to donate to Global Voices if you want to support how it removes barriers to make more conversations between different parts of the world.
So today I was denied entry visa to go to Spain.
I got a scholarship to attend the Mozilla drumbeat festival 3 weeks ago, taking place in Barcelona, Spain. The festival is taking place from 3 to 5 November. After preparing all the documents according to the consulate website, went to the Spanish consulate in Alexandria after a call for booking an appointment, was kept there for 3 hours waiting for handling the visa application and the papers to the Spanish Consul.
Then I called them today to be informed that the visa application is cancelled. Why? The personnel who replied said that he is not authorized to state the refusal reasons. I’m not sure if anything can be done, but this is totally ridiculous. This is a well known event hosted by Mozilla in Spain, they should be more careful to use such kinds of events to improve the Spanish image in the field of digital media.
So, last month I got the Kindle, the second generation one. I’ve been thinking of writing this post since sometime now, but was just too buried in researching about the Kindle and, of course, reading by it.
It is an outstanding experience, reading with no painful LCD screens, screens which do not go blind in bright light. You have to turn on the light to read, unlike most (if not all) the rest of standalone readers (oh please don’t mention the iPad, will say why at the end of the post).
I was shocked at first that Amazon didn’t ship the Kindle directly to the Middle East, so I got it from a friend of mine, who happens to be living in the States, and then hand-delivered it to me during his visit to Egypt.
So for people who are not lucky as me, maybe you can give Shop&Ship a try, I’m not sure if Amazon will accept Egyptian credit cards, but just in case, you can buy Amazon gift certificates and use it for buying the Kindle (Shop&Ship provides a US/UK address, I highly recommend the US address since the Kindle UK is a whole different website, with its own limitations).
The Kindle has two sizes, the normal has a 6" screen, while the other (called Kindle DX), has a 9" screen. The 9" one is nearly double the price, double the weight. So won’t be very portable to move with.
The 6 inch is light, 250g, with a slick design as shown below.
Kindle 2 de Amazon by Dekuwa under by-nc-sa license
I got a leather case, from Amazon too, for 34 dollars (a must buy if you are going portable and for protection).
And this is how it looks when you are reading:
So it really looks like you reading a book while commuting, only people close to you will give you the what-is-this-gadget look, which is something very convenient.
The Kindle2 support a micro-USB cable, with a small electric plug-like charger inserted in the USB end of the cable. You can’t charge using your computer/laptop, you HAVE to put it in the wall, which was my second shock, though still, the battery can go on like a week without turning Wireless on if you are a heavy reader (official duration is two weeks).
It also comes with 2 speakers in its metal cover as below for playing background music and also for reading aloud (for books with this option enabled) or for playing audio books. It also supports 3.5mm earphones on the top edge of the device)
Photo from Wikipedia under by-sa 3.0 license
When you open your Kindle for the first time (by sliding the top button instantly) you will find a guide. Read it till the end before you continue using the device.
Kindle has an amazing feature, which is the Whispernet option. This is a 3G wireless network covering most of the world for:
1. Purchasing from the Kindle Store and delivering purchased books to you device where coverage is available in less than 60 seconds.
2, Your purchased books will stay in your account archive even if your Kindle is stolen, or if you deleted your items by accident. Upon deletion the books move automatically to your online archive where you can download again by moving the book to your main space then open it (wireless must be on during opening)
3. Surfing online through the basic web browser (Wikipedia and the Kindle book store are for free, other than that it will cost you depending on where you are)
4. Writing reviews and putting them on the book Amazon reviews the moment you publish it.
After reading the guide, you should register your Kindle with your Amazon account to be able to purchase. Here comes the third shock, Amazon does NOT deliver Kindle books to Africa (apparently for books copyrights issues, since they have to sign deals with the publishers, or else the publishers will sue Amazon for every book available).
I tried to change my country for a few times, through the “Manage your Kindle” link in my Amazon account, once to France, once to UK, using random address and numbers. It was painful because actually Kindle “knew” that I’m not in those countries, not until I used proxies. Free proxies were also a pain since they were not always available.
Finally I changed my country to US, found a software called HotShield for safe surfing through free VPN in the US, all was OK until the program went crazy for a while. I uninstalled it, but all went normal. Seems like Amazon doesn’t monitor IPs theoretically coming from the US.
So currently Amazon treats me like any other American customer.
Going to the Kindle store, you have an option to either download the Kindle book format to your PC then transfer to your Kindle via USB, or download directly, for free, using the WhisperNet 3G network. I strongly recommend the second, it will save you all the fuss of connecting and disconnecting. Just turn on your Kindle wireless, Sync for new items, and then all your purchased items will be downloaded. This means a lot to me since this way I can read the book I want without spending centuries searching for it.
The Kindle2 6" can hold around 1500 books, so you can pack as much as you want during a long trip. There is an option called collections where you can group books on whatever basis you like, this is really effective when you have a large collection. You can also sort your books according to the Title, Author, and Most Recent First.
Bookmarks are unlimited, and when you continue reading the book is automatically send to the last read page.
There are a lot of free books (and word games too) in the Amazon store. You can also find a lot in other places as well. Amazon has a page for where you can get free books. But non-Amazon books do not enjoy the free wireless delivery, but still you can email it to your Amazon mail to be delivered wirelessly for a fee, usually for 99 cents per document. You will have to transfer it via USB.
While reading, you will discover the importance of the 5-way button:
Kindle has a basic browser as mentioned earlier, its main use for me till now is finding out about people I didn’t know instantly without reading.
There is ability for converting your PDFs to the Kindle using MobiPocket creator (the PUBLISHER edition) and Stanza, I used the first since Stanza for Windows is still in beta. Side effects: equations are not displayed correctly, complicated images are colour-inversed, sometimes the images are not shown at all.
You can read PDFs on the Kindle, but on the 6" version the font will be too small (Fonts can be changed in Kindle format, but not in PDFs) KindleDX has more PDF support, but still, it is too expensive.
Finally I want to talk two things.
First: The kindle will be a real reading device for you when you stop considering it as a hi-tech gadget, it should feel like a real book, a usual everyday thing.
Second: iPads are laptops without keyboards, for people who want to surf. The Kindle is for heavy readers. If you are not a heavy-reader, the Kindle is not for you.
Open for questions.
Why do people put so much energy in blaming and trying to find who is responsible for a certain problem instead of thinking for a minute to find a way to fix it?!
Khaled Said, a 28-year-old Egyptian from the coastal city of Alexandria, was allegedly tortured to death at the hands of two officers who wanted to search him under the emergency law.
The story began on 7th June 2010 when Khaled Said went to his usual Internet cafe in Sidigaber …
Then two wild detective cops (Mahmoud Alfallah and Awaad Elmokhber) ambushed that cafe asking people for their IDs which is totally out of their authority and without legal permission.
Khaled did reject that way of inhumane treatment and consequently was attacked so viciously , was kicked in his chest and belly severely, and his skull was smashed with the marble bar before all people and witnesses in the cafe while Khaled was bleeding.
Then savage cops abducted Khaled and put him inside the police vehicle to continue torturing him to death in the police station. Finally, they threw his corpse in the street to claim that he was attacked by some strangers in order to avoid responsibility. The cops were released few hours later and some protesters were arrested.
Shocking pictures of Khaled Said’s body, whose face is almost unrecognizable from the beating he received, at the hands of the Egyptian police and in public according to reports, has been posted on the internet.
Check the photos here:
(WARNING: THE PHOTOS ARE HARD TO WATCH)
On the 12th of June 2010 the department of media and public relations of the Egyptian ministry of interior issued a statement denying the content of the testimonies of eyewitnesses as well as reports by human rights organizations. The statement also claimed that Khaled Said was a "wanted criminal," with two convictions in absentia for theft and illegal possession of weapons, and that he had evaded his military service. It was claimed that Khaled had died of ASPHYXIATION after he swallowed a packet of drugs.
Khaled Said’s death enraged many Egyptians, who went out on demonstrations protesting his brutal murder and demanding justice for Khaled and for his assassins to be judged -- all the way up to the Minister of Interior, Habib El Adly.
This video is about a demonstration that took place on the 16th of June 2010 near Khaled’s house in Cleapatra district in Alexandria.
It was shot by Mohamed El Hadidi with Canon 550D Rebel T2i and edited by Mayye Zayed using Adobe Premiere CS4 without any kind of color correction. And it is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
For more details about Khaled Said’d murder please check the following link:
I never saw such a critic of US way of living
Leonard Cohen – Democracy:
It’s coming through a hole in the air,
from those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It’s coming from the feel that this ain’t exactly real,
or it’s real, but it ain’t exactly there.
From the wars against disorder, from the sirens night and day,
from the fires of the homeless, from the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
It’s coming through a crack in the wall on a visionary flood of alcohol;
from the staggering account of the Sermon on the Mount
which I don’t pretend to understand at all.
It’s coming from the silence on the dock of the bay,
from the brave, the bold, the battered heart of Chevrolet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
It’s coming from the sorrow in the street
the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin’
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment where the women kneel to pray
for the grace of God in the desert here and the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
Sail on, sail on. O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.
It’s coming to America first, the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It’s here they got the range and the machinery for change
and it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.
It’s here the family’s broken and it’s here the lonely say
that the heart has got to open in a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
It’s coming from the women and the men.
O baby, we’ll be making love again.
We’ll be going down so deep
the river’s going to weep,
and the mountain’s going to shout Amen!
It’s coming like the tidal flood beneath the lunar sway,
imperial, mysterious, in amorous array:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
Sail on, sail on …
I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can’t stand the scene.
And I’m neither left or right
I’m just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags that Time cannot decay,
I’m junk but I’m still holding up this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A…
This post is for mourning Khalid Said who was brutally murdered by the Egyptian police.
After I went to Chile, I’m trying to expose myself to the music of different languages. Spanish and French mainly. From time to time I find songs with English version.
After listening to the English version, I still don’t find the beauty I feel in my heart when I listen to the original language. I may not understand every word, but the original language always reaches my heart, which is usually not the case with translated English versions.
If you don’t know, I’m the editor of the Arabic version of Global Voices Online. I edit translations from the English version to the Arabic one. I do this mainly for my interest to increase Arabic content on the web. I also see original posts in Spanish translated to English. In translations, I don’t see the beauty of the original language.
Originality has music, has a different taste, something you can enjoy, adds to your soul. If you can, learn as many languages as you can, to enjoy its originality.
This video (via dear Rasha) is from the musical Notre Dame De Paris based on the novel by the same name by Victor Hugo. The story, along with the music of course, always strikes me deeply. Seeing what westerners accuse Arabs or Easterners with based deeply in the western soul since the Middle Ages.
How pure beauty can be seen as pure impurity. How all what matters is being a virgin. How can a corrupted person have all the authority to destroy this beauty as long as it didn’t obey his lustful needs. How are some people are just driven by their sexual needs. How can all the people obey blindly the human high authority and destroy this beauty under the same accusations of protecting purity and other so called social holy wars to preserve morality.
Who will cast the first stone at her, he who does not deserve to live…
As many westerners call for Arab/Eastern accepting “the other”, what do they mean by accepting? Do you mean accepting their mere existence? Do you mean discovering them? Do you mean discussing the deep cultural / religious details? Do you mean mingling between the cultures? Do you mean absorbing one culture in the other?
Let me explain 2 sides of a coin in the Egyptian society, the 2 extremes. We have extremely religious people who require some rituals to be strictly done so that you are in the “righteous” side, like having a long beard with a short galabeyya or whatever. We have extremely non-religious people who think religious people are so wrong and “regressive” so they want to require their neighborhood to do some rituals strictly like forcing them to drink wine, have premarital sex when they don’t want, either that or they don’t believe in freedom, etc..
Both are extremists in a way or another, both do not view freedom as a way of living. Both do not see the other, they just want to be “the one”, “the ONLY one”.
The same applies between people from different countries, though one thing adds here is the stereotypes between different people like I mentioned in the beginning of my last post. BUT, there are still a major difference westerners usually do not realize till they visit countries like Egypt or other countries in the Middle East.
I heard many stories about racism against Arabs, Muslims, Eastern people in general in Europe or the states. Racism not just through extra security measures issues by the governments, but worse, racial actions committed by normal citizens, and they are not a few incidents. Hate crimes are illegal by law, but they are there, they happen, they exist, they exist with a considerable ratio.
When westerners come to the Middle East, and they feel the hospitality they receive, not only from their hosts, but from the average citizen, when the opposite isn’t usually happening, at least not in the same “warmth”.
There is a story of an American Jew who visited Saudi Arabia where you can read here, and how he was thrilled by the tolerance he experienced. This is a very awkward situation to think of from a western point of view. An American Jew going to Saudi Arabia, just imagine that? He is not dead yet? Nope! Those was his own words:
Every man was generous, seemed delighted to be talking with an American, was open-minded or at least willing to have a frank conversation.
In the past days I was enjoying the company of some Danish and Egyptian artists. Artists of different kinds, music, food, photography, you can summarize it as just Art. We kept talking about Egypt and Denmark, the Egyptians and the Danes. We kept exploring each other, from different aspects. And in the same time, we mingled with average people, who might not always share the same views, or the same perspectives.
And as time kept passing by, I began to think. We always notice people talking about “the other”, accepting “the other”, communicating with “the other”, discovering “the other”. Is that expression really right? Should this expression exist in the first place? Are people around the world that different?
The Danes told me how some of them are still believing in the stereotype that Egypt is a desert with pyramids, with people travelling by camels. And I know Egyptians whose only information about Denmark is the Muhammad’s cartoons. Stereotypes stereotypes stereotypes, stereotypes everywhere and allover. If you considered a discussion starting point that every country or every country’s people believe in some kind of stereotype image of other country’s people, how will you continue the discussion about accepting?