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The Atlas is proud to be partnering with the Hay Festival's Beirut39 contest, celebrating Beirut's year as UNESCO World Book Capital, to find the hottest authors under 40 of Arabic origin. Nominations are open until August 24th, 2009.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Digital Democracy in the Arab World: The Good News

First up, a new project brought to my attention by Body on the Line: R-Shief (Arabic for archive): describes itself as
an initiative in the field of knowledge production that distinguishes a contemporary Arab transnational public as an emerging voice on the world stage deserving serious attention given this community’s role in current geopolitical, international, and transcultural agendas.
Part-library, part-journal, all online, R-Shief offers both speed and accessibility, and includes non-traditional research methods such as "digital video, personal narratives in the form of blogs, collaborative production models and other mixed media." Its current focus is on Gaza; you can contact initiator Laila Shereen to discuss adding or using material.

And revisiting a story from the early days of this blog: the case of Magdy elShafee's graphic novel Metro is coming to trial in Egypt. Global Voices (who published excerpts from Metro in translation) published an open letter from AlShafee asking for support -- and this is what makes it good news, despite the prosecution -- from the global blogosphere, which has taken up the case. AlShafee writes:
Next Saturday April 4th, A court session scheduled for the trial of Magdy El Shafie and Mohammed El Sharkawy (Malameh Publishing House) for distributing, publishing and selling the graphic novel “Metro”,

Your NO for confiscation

Is YES for our freedom

Is YES for our solidarity

Is NOOOOO for the government prelude of harder stringing of freedom of the art and word, in the press, the satellites, the internet and now the independent publishing houses. We invite you to say: NO for metro confiscation and trial, Support freedom of arts and expression

Metro is considered the first graphic novel in Egypt. written and illustrated by Magdy El Shafee who won the UNESCO gratitude for best African comics 2006

Egyptian government officials said the book was “harmful to public manners” due to its alleged political and social commentary.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo) - a pan-Arabic network that promotes freedom of speech has rejected the confiscation of the novel and considers it a severe violation against the freedom of expression.

With the coming court session next saturday April 4th, HRinfo and 4 human rights organizations announced a new condemnation in March 30th entitled: [Egypt`s Farouk Hosny goes to UNESCO, and Magdy Elshafee goes to the court!! the auther of Egypt's graphic novel “metro” threatened with 2 years jail sentence.] ([in Arabic])

We look for your solidarity; on your blog. Add a comment here [in Arabic] and here [in Arabic] and on Facebook and here.

We lean on your being there in Abdeen court, down town Cairo 9 am Naguib metro station next saturday April 4th.

best regards.

Magdy ElShafee
comics artist
Add your voice -- here as well! -- to the outcry against this trial and the original confiscation.

Updated 3/4/09
Marwa Rakha has a comprehensive update on the online coverage of the trial and ElShafee's campaign in today's Global Voices.

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