Monday, July 07, 2008

Support Freedom of Speech

Our friends and readers remember the Arabic blogging tool that we helped develop nearly 4 years ago. It was a pioneer project in making blogging easy for Arabic speakers in the Middle East. It’s been a story of exceptional success in dangerous times. Only with the strong will of good Iraqis and Americans the idea became solid reality.

The project did not wait for or receive any support from the Iraqi or US government; the success was only the fruit of cooperation between enthusiastic supporters of free speech in both countries.

It was a long journey to help introduce the idea of dialogue over the internet and activism to the Iraqi people. It’s been a real challenge on a land that witnesses the most brutal attacks of terrorism. However this did not discourage the volunteers who continued to move across the country offering training and promoting the culture of blogging and free speech. That journey reached even some of the most remote villages and most volatile zones. During that we lost two dear colleagues on what was known back then as the ‘death road’.

The project was built with generous donations and enthusiastic volunteer work, and above all blood. Today we’re proud that the blogging network has more than 2,300 users using the tool to express themselves and interact with one another. The community received more than 20 million readers since its inception three years ago and the average hits today reaches as many as 25,000 and continues to rise. The network of users expanded beyond Iraq to the rest of the Middle East where hundreds of blogger are now using the network, adding new dimensions to it by connecting all these bloggers, activists and NGOs.

On behalf of all the people using the service, I'd like to thank all those who took part in the first fund raising campaign that Spirit of America led which our dear readers and many respectable bloggers had an honorable role in. also thanks to Cato Institute and Dr. Tom Palmer for covering the expenses of the service for a full year, and to all the Iraqi volunteers who still manage the main site for free.

This project is now facing the danger of being shut down because we couldn’t find resources to pay the firm that hosts the service…the network will no longer exist by the end of the month, unless we find a way to save it.

We hope that the lovers and supporters of free speech and democracy will help us find the resources necessary to keep the project alive.
The managing and editing of the main site, as well as occasional Arabic-English translation are taken care of by Iraqi volunteers free of charge. What the service needs to survive are the expenses of the hosting firm and sufficient legal expertise to help with the negotiations and oversee the financial issues.

At a cost of less than $2,000 a month we can keep 2,300 bloggers online, their 25,000 daily readers informed and keep the doors open for many more to join. Please spread the word and email us in case you know individuals or groups that might be willing to offer assitance.

Related links and previous stories:
Friends of Democracy Home Page
Blogs Directory
Activities made possible by the network

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