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Echoes from the Tunisian blogosphere

Karim and Marwen write about their wishes for the Tunisian blogosphere in the year 2006, after a big and healthy year 2005 for blogs in Tunisia.
Adib gives his thoughts on the Tunisian blogosphere in the past year 2005.

Hannibal publishes some pictures he took at an art exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, NY : Tree of Paradise: Jewish Mosaics from the Roman Empire, which displays a number of mosaics from Tunisia.

Tunizika have released episode 8 of their Tunisian musical podcast featuring music from Sofyann Ben youssef, Ghalia Ben Ali & Temnaa, Kerkenah and Amel Mathlouthi.

Marwen thinks that biodiesel could be a very good alternative fuel option in Tunisia, as the prices for petroleum based fuel continue to rise.

Tunisian Globetrotter reports that a new TV channel called “Sport 7″, that will broadcast all the soccer matches from the Tunisian championship, could see the light of day soon. Talks are still going on between Tunisian officials and ART about the details (in French).

Zizou writes about the relations between Tunisia and Italy, and how a bond was created between the two countries when the Italian RAI1 channel became available to all Tunisians back in 1967. He sees the countries moving away from each other over the past few years, and he thinks that the opposite should be the case, especially with Italy being in need of foreign labor and Tunisians being in a good position to fill those gaps. (in French)

OthRez writes an interesting piece about relocation / offshoring in general and also takes Tunisia's example where many textile and ITC businesses from Europe are setting up production centers, discussing the pros and cons of it all (in French).

Ex-Blonde writes about her experience with Tunisian cinemas; the small and old selection of movies, the badly reputated cinemas, the empty theatres, the low quality picture and sound, …etc. She finds watching pirated DivX movies at home in front of her PC a much better experience (in French).

2 comments

  • happy new year dears global voices!

  • Neila Charchour Hachicha

    Political dissidents turn to cyberspace

    By MEREDITH MACKENZIE
    United Press International Correspondent

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (UPI) —

    The Internet has offered a voice to dissidents in countries lacking civil liberties where journalists, political dissidents, and frustrated citizens are otherwise unable to express their opinions, or seek support for reforms they want implemented.

    The Parti Libéral Méditerranéen, one of Tunisia’s unrecognized reform political parties, is one such group of political dissidents. The party operates mostly through the Internet and underground meetings. Freedom of _expression, association and of the press is limited in Tunisia due to a myriad of government restrictions.

    The party’s founder Neila Charchour Hachicha has developed her party using a personal blog and the party’s website, both of which have been censored and banned. The party wants to see more liberalization of Tunisia and acceptance of democratic values. Trying to engage in democratic elections without democratic government structure in place, says Hachicha, is a futile effort. By attempting to achieve democratic reforms in an autocratic system, she says, “We don’t produce reformers and reforms; we only produce dissidents and dissent.”

    While the Tunisian government does not recognize Hachicha’s party, even the Democratic Progressive Party one of the seven recognized opposition groups, pulled out of elections in 2004 refusing to participate thereby “legitimizing a masquerade of democracy.” President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali was elected with 95 percent of the vote for his fourth term and has pushed through legislation that will allow him two more five-year terms. In past elections Ben Ali has won by as much as 99 percent.

    Hachicha envisions a solution to the lack of freedom by turning entirely to cyberspace. She sees the Internet as a low-cost way to unite dissident groups, journalists, and citizens into a type of pan-Arab reform think tank that operates online and perhaps conducts outreach through satellite TV. But that requires funding through international support. She feels that keeping dissidents connected will offer a way for reform movements like hers to evolve to a point where they are able put pressure on governments to accept of democratic values.

    Tunisia is not alone. Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based media watchdog group, estimates that 62 cyber-dissidents worldwide, the vast majority of them Chinese, have been imprisoned for Internet _expression. The group has focused on the freedom of cyber-dissidents in 2006, publishing a handbook for dissidents, which gives tips on maintaining anonymity and avoiding censorship. The organization has also organized petitions lobbying for the regulation of Internet companies and providers to ensure freedom of _expression worldwide.

    In 2002 Yahoo agreed to censor the Chinese version of its software against a blacklist of sites, and Secure Computing, a California company, sold technology to the Tunisian government that enables the censorship of independent websites, such as international news sites. Microsoft’s MSN Space has also agreed to censor Chinese blogs containing certain words or phrases like “human rights.” These efforts to protect cyber _expression were launched by Reporters Without Borders at the 2003 meeting of United Nations World Summit on the Information Society. Ironically the 2005 summit met in Tunis and some journalists were denied entry into the country to cover the event.

    The effectiveness of cyber dissent is contingent on the availability of the media. In highly technological nations the use of text messaging on cellular phones has helped popular opposition groups organize political demonstrations. In 2002 text-message protests in the Philippines helped to oust President Joseph Estrada. Satellite television is widely watched in the Arab world and the prevalence of stations like Al-Aribiya and Al-Jazeera has influenced pop culture and political discussion. In Ukraine in 2004, Natalia Dmytruk, a sign language interpreter for the television news used the state-run channel to ignite support for the Viktor Yushchenko’s opposition party in the face of fraudulent elections. Dmytruk indicated to deaf viewers that the news of Yushchenko’s loss to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was false. Those who understood her silent protest spread the word that drew international attention to Yushchenko and his Orange Revolution.

    Internet World Stats, an Internet market research group, estimates Internet usage in Tunisia is estimated at about 8 percent of the population or just over 800,000 users. This may not be enough users for cyber dissidents, like Hachicha, to be effective at swaying opinion on internal politics. The situation is much the same across the Arab world which according to Internet World Stats, accounts for less than 3 percent of the world’s internet usage. “The main problem for a blogger, even under a repressive regime, isn’t security,” says Julien Pain in the Reporters Without Borders Handbook. “It’s about getting the blog known, finding an audience.”

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