Today on the net: a Bahraini blogger arrives safely in the UK after fleeing his country; Chinese web users petition the White House; and a Moroccan webzine launches an anti-homophobia campaign in Arab countries.
Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam flees to UK
He had not been seen or heard of in over two years, but Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam has finally broken his silence after arriving in the UK last month. The human rights activist had been living in hiding since 2011 following the repression of the popular uprising in Bahrain, in the middle of the Arab Spring. He was tried in absentia and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
On the website of American magazine The Atlantic, NGO Human Rights Foundation reports on how Ali Abdulemam managed to escape Bahrain. He was smuggled out of the kingdom into Saudi Arabia in a secret compartment of a car, he was then taken to Kuwait by land where fishermen smuggled him into Iraq where he was flown to London, where he has been granted political asylum in the British capital as he waits to be reunited with his wife and children.
At the end of the 90s, Ali Abdulemam, who is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of the Bahraini blogosphere, founded the pro-democracy discussion forum “Bahrain Online”. And so began his ongoing campaigning for political reforms in Bahrain where the ruling Sunni royal family has been coming under growing opposition from the kingdom’s Shiite majority.
And despite living in exile the activist remains as committed as ever. In this video posted online last Saturday, he says he will continue to fight for freedom of expression in Bahrain.
Chinese web users petitioning the White House
Anyone can start a petition on the White House petitioning platform "We, the People" launched in 2011. It is not exclusively for American citizens, in fact it’s recently become a very popular landing spot for Chinese web users.
China does have its own petitioning system; it was developed under imperial rule and citizens are supposedly able to use it submit grievances to the central authorities. But complaints rarely come to anything and petitioners are often beaten up or sent to prison.
So, Chinese web users appear to have found in the White House site, a new way of speaking up and out. With the police in China refusing to reopen an enquiry into the poisoning of a Beijing student around twenty years ago, a petition has been launched appealing to Washington to deport the main suspect who is apparently now living in the US. The document has gathered near to 150,000 signatures.
And last week as residents of Kunming protested against the construction of a toxic chemical plant in the southwestern city, activists also submitted a petition asking the US government to exert pressure on the Chinese authorities to abandon the project.
And just like their American counterparts, Chinese web users are also taking the opportunity to start some somewhat weird and wacky petitions… This one for example is campaigning for sweet tasting tofu…
Now trending on social networks
Moroccan webzine Aswat has launched a social media campaign called “Love for All”, which asks its readers in Arab countries to photograph themselves with handwritten messages speaking out against homophobia. Scores of people from Algeria, to Yemen and Tunisia, have already taken part. And we can see homosexuality remains a taboo subject in their respective countries because most participants have not shown their face, preferring to remain anonymous. The campaign has been timed to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia this coming Friday.
GeoGuessr, a Google Maps guessing game
GeoGuessr is an online game which will no doubt be popular with keen travelers. The site uses Google Street View to take you to a randomly chosen spot. You then have to pinpoint on a map of the world where you think you are. And the closer you get the higher your score. It’s definitely a fun way of swotting up on a bit if geography.
Video of the day
This man has no idea he’s being filmed … but David Wilson a regular at the same gym was so impressed by his unusual treadmill techniques and his astonishing ease and grace on the machine, he couldn’t resist filming the performance, putting it to music and sharing it on YouTube…