Social Media

Sandmonkey on MSNBC

Sandmonkey and yours truly being scared at Stassi archives in Berlin, Germany in 2010.

Sandmonkey and yours truly being scared at Stassi archives in Berlin, Germany in 2010.

Famous Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey, whom I recently interviewed for RFE/RL and who later was arrested, assaulted and basically robbed by the Egyptian police, is talking on MSNBC from Tahrir square here.

Sandmonkey Arrested! You - next.

The most famous Egyptian English-speaking blogger Sandmonkey, the one I made an interview for RFE/RL two days ago with was arrested today.

First the message was spread on Twitter, saying his father tried to call him, but someone else picked up the phone and said "You are next".

I've also tried to call, the same person picked up and first said: "Efendim", which is used for "Hello" in Turkish (apparently it is also used in Egypt). I asked if I can speak to Mahmood, the person replied: "Who are you?". I asked the same question again, the replied: "Who are you and where are you from?". I asked again if I can speak to Mahmood, the person replied: "Mahmood - police. You - next", and hung up.

I called again the second time and asked if they can tell me if Mahmood's all right and not injured. The person said "Mahmood okay". I asked how long he'll have to stay in the police, the person shouted: "Okay!! Bye bye bye bye", and hung up. Now Sandmonkey's phone is off.

A friend of him contacted me, saying her brother was with him. She is trying to call but someone picks up and doesn't speak.

At the moment, we are trying to spread the information among international community.

In our conversations during this week, he told me the State Security was using different kind of tricks to find him.

UPD: Sandmonkey's blog is down. The screen says This Account Has Been Suspended

UPD: Sandmonkey was reportedly arrested when he was delivering medical supplies to people on Tahrir Square.

UPD: Sandmonkey is reportely held in Abdeen Police Station in Cairo (?)

Under this link you can find the last blog post of Sandmonkey cached

UPD: Huffington Post mention

UPD: some tweets report Sandmonkey was first attacked by thugs. NOT CONFIRMED

UPD: Al Jazeera's Yourmedia just mentioned Sandmonkey's arrest live: "We receive reports that prominent blogger Sandmonkey has been arrested. We heard a lot of him, we know him, he was updating his twitter but not for 5 hours now".

UPD: Apparently Sandmonkey's phone is back on. Facebook user Jylan Khairat says: I just called his phone also and someone else answered pretending to be him, then he said in arabic "we'll get you all".

UPD: some tweets report Sandmonkey has been released. Some say he escaped. He and his friends have been beaten, his car destroyed, his phone confiscated, the medical supplies stolen. Trying to confirm now.

UPD: Twitter user RamyYaacoub reports: On the phone with @SandMonkey: "We were released, we did NOT run away . . . heading back to safety now" #SandMonkey

UPD: Twitter user RamyYaacoub reports: @SandMonkey: "We were just released after a 2 hour arrest, the beating came before the arrest" #SandMonkey

@RamyYaacoubSandMonkey: "My car is completely destroyed, my cellphone was taken, we were saved by my friend's extra phone"#SandMonkey

UPD: @RamyYaacoub: @SandMonkey: "Massive Chaos ensued before we got arrested, my phone is gone, money, and car is destroyed" #SandMonkey

UPD: BBC also reported his arrest and release.

UPD: Sandmonkey on Facebook: "I am ok. My car destroyed, was beaten, but am fine. don't call my cell and delete me from ur bbm until i get it back."

On Twitter: RT @Sandmonkey: I am ok. I got out. I was ambushed & beaten by the police, my phone confiscated , my car ripped apar& supplies taken #jan25

Last update from my telephone conversation with Sandmonkey:

He and his friends were driving the car to Tahrir square to deliver medical supplies to people, when Mubarak's people approached them. They managed to escape and stopped by the police point to seek help. Instead, police officer took the keys of his car and ordered people to attack them. They were in the car, while around 100 people were destroying it.

He managed to escape the car from the other door, but was taken to the police station. There they confiscated his phone and money, and ripped his car apart. They were given no explanation, pressed no charges. After spending two hours in police micro-bus they were released, apparently, because "people made such a big fuss out of this arrest".

Sandmonkey is home and safe. He's bruised and slightly injured with pieces of glass. His friends also injured.

The story of their arrest in details, and Sandmonkey's interview to CNN here.

Democracy Freedom and Dignity

As the resistance in Egypt continues today, these are today's updates.

Egypt in Tweets:

@alfredoboca: If your government shuts down the internet, shut down your government.

@hasanalikhattak: women expected to take active role in protests today after men spent the night protecting neighborhoods #Egypt #Jan25

@samihtoukan Arab people are not extremist nor terrorists.Our time has come.We deserve democracy and to live with freedom and dignity #jan25 #egypt

‎@sandmonkey: 5 years ago my beliefs made me a minority opposition, today I am the people #jan25

@chrisalbon: AJE in Egypt is shut down. If there was ever a time for citizen journalism, this is it.

UPD:Dan Nolan updates information on the closure of Al Jazeera on his Twitter.

AlJazeera crew leave Suez as no longer safe to be there. Direct threats made against jazeera. Unsure where anger originating? Thugs? 

#Jan25

Aljazeera Cairo bureau has been shut down. Just visited by plain clothes government security, TV uplink is now closed 

#Egypt

8 guys here. Angry discussion at our live position that’s been bringing you all those dramatic pictures 

#Jan25

#Egypt

Packing our equipment. We have been kicked out of office. Jazeera only network being shut down according to these guys 

#Jan25

#Egypt

Gov’t agents say they’ve been watching our coverage but also listening to our phone calls. 

#Jan

25 

#Egypt

UPD:

@bbclysedoucet just saw a man in a suit and tie directing Cairo traffic..police nowhere to be seen #Jan25 # Egypt

Dan Nolan

Fighter jets now streaking across the skies of downtown Cairo as curfew approaches 

#Egypt

(via phone)

A show of force to intimidate protestors. Doubt it will work, nobody seems to be leaving Tahrir Square 

#Egypt

(via phone)

@CNNbrk Fighter planes fly low over crowds in Cairo's Tahrir Square, 10 minutes before state-imposed curfew. news.blogs.cnn.com/…

@CNNbrk#Egypt opposition leader ElBaradei calls for Mubarak to "leave today and save the country." news.blogs.cnn.com/…

UPD:

@sharifkouddous Tahrir is packed. Crowd has swelled. Jets keep passing overhead. Mood is celebratory. Chanting for Mubarak to get out. #Egypt

@ellozy: Thousands chanting in Tahrir Square: "Hosni [Mubarak] has gone mad!" #jan25#Egypt

UPD:

@Tahirimran: The soldier says if I don't want to get injured I should leave, I ask him what do you mean? He tells me things wold turn nasty#Egypt#jan30

@sharifkouddous: sitting next to my uncle. He's been protesting alone on the streets for years.  My uncle: "remember when I would stand alone and protest? Now look at everyone here. "this is a dream come true" #Egypt

@sharifkouddous: People wave and hold up victory signs whenever the helicopter flies low overhead #Egypt

UPD:

@Dima_Khatib: Clinton: we expect free fair elections as an outcome of what is happening in Egypt. FIRST TIME US SAYS THAT !!! #egypt#jan25

@Debbas#Egypt Demonstrators are being taken to jail in Tahrir Square in Cairo . Source OTV Lebanon

@CNNbrk: #Egypt troops fire warning shots into air in Cairo's Tahrir Square as demonstrators defy curfew. http://on.cnn.com/eJR2rB

UPD:

Dan Nolan: In Tahrir Square I see a soldier pull a woman,child+ #Egypt flag on top of his tank.Dancing/waving to chants of 100's of cheering protestors

@Aljazeera: ‎#Egypt army has just told the crowd gathering at Tahrir Square that military will not go against the people #Jan25 #aljazeera

UPD:

@sharifkouddous: Crowd chanting now: "Mubarak has lost his mind" #Egypt

@sharifkouddous: A soldier was carried on shoulders through the crowd. Loud chants of "mubarak this is your last night" #Egypt

@dancefromiraq: another big protest happening on Abdel Moneim Riad Sq. #jan25

@behzad77: please hospitals in Egypt are in need for blood. Please donate if you can! Spread the word and save lives, iA. #Egypt#Jan25

UPD:

@CNNbrk: Nile TV reports prison outbreaks throughout #Egypt. Number of escapees unclear, but more than 3,000 arrested. news.blogs.cnn.com/…

@rhyssumm there r 100,000s of ppl across egypt. do the math of excluding the too young&too old & add protesters' families = most egyptians

@octavianasr#ALjazeera Arabic reports #Egypt Army chief told the protesting crowds: army "won't go against them." #Jan25Via AJ English

UPD:

@sharifkouddous: The energy is indescribable. Huge part of crowd clapping in unison, chanting together. #Egypt

@sharifkouddous: Mubarak is finished. He cannot beat this. They will stay until he leaves. And they are so many now. #Egypt

@sharifkouddous: I am in the middle of a sea of people. Chanting together. "Mubarak get out. We are the children of #Egypt."

@AlArabiya_Eng: @ElBaradei heading to Meydan Tahrir (Liberation Square), Cairo to address the crowds. Estimated at over 100,000.

UPD:

@noornet: AlJazeera: Just confirmed that Mohamed El Baradei (opposition leader of IEA) & son Ali join protestors in Tahrir #jan25#Egypt

@asa_wire The Arab Revolution has spread to Algeria: 10,000 marched yesterday http://bit.ly/fcmY8O#egypt#jan25

***

Egypt in news:

UPD: "Muslim Brothers" are nothing like Islamic fundamentalists of Iran or Afghanistan. Egypt will not repeat their destiny", says El Baradei while being interviewed by CNN. --- Agence France-Presse reports that "thousand" prisoners have escaped from Wadi el-Natroun prison today. The exact number is not clear though.

UPD: Thirty-four members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, including seven members of the leadership, walked out of prison on Sunday after relatives of prisoners overcame the guards, a Brotherhood official said. The relatives stormed the prison in Wadi el-Natroun, 120 km (80 miles) northwest of Cairo, and set free several thousand of the inmates, Brotherhood office manager Mohamed Osama told Reuters. No one was hurt, he added.

UPD:8 HAMAS members have also escaped the Wadi el-Natroun. Two of them, reportedly, are already in Gaza.

---

The employee of Azerbaijani Embassy in Egypt Nijat Khojayev has been shot dead on his way home from work, confirmed by MFA Azerbaijan. His body will be delivered back to Azerbaijan later today. Azerbaijani government, however, didn't make any statements on this issue yet. Allah rehmet elesin!

---

Reuters puts together key elements of the USA-Egyptian relationship, giving brief recent historical overview and publishing the sums of financial aids provided to Egypt by USA in exchange for diplomatic relations with Israel.

---

Probably the biggest news for today so far, is the shut down of Al Jazeera bureau i Egypt. Their license has been revoked, journalists deprived their accreditations. Channel's online producer Evan Hill tweets: "State TV announces Al Jazeera's broadcasting license and press cards are being revoked. Our bureau is packing up. #jan25""The team is working on a plan if the shutdown does occur. For obvious reasons, won't be tweeting the details here. #jan25", he adds later. Al Jazeera's UAE correspondent Dan Nolan has also shared channel's plans: "Don’t worry we’ll still report what’s happening in #Egypt no matter what new restrictions they put on us. #Jan25".

***

m_110127mg
m_110127mg

Egypt in pictures:

MSNBC's slideshow on Egyptian bloggers and their destiny can be found here.

A Facebook collection of pictures named Women of Egypt picturing Egyptian female prostesters.

Another great Facebook collection of January 28 protests by Roberto Pitea.

UPD:

Totally cool pics from Egypt at Totallycoolpix

***

Egypt in videos:

An impressive video of an open clash between police and protestants in Egypt on January 28:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXbRdumboZ0&w=480&h=390]

Egyptian army cleansing Cairo museum after looters. Reportedly, a group of protesters has built a human chain around the museum, protecting it from looters until the military forces took over:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3K6RWDLp8U&w=500&h=311]

Al Jazeera's report from last night. Cairo men organizing neighbourhood security groups to protect their homes and property:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7EcB5_fyRY&w=500&h=311]

And of course, a hilarious report on Egypt by Jon Stewart's Daily Show:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c

The Rule of the Nile

www.thedailyshow.com

http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:372456

Daily Show Full Episodes

Political Humor & Satire Blog

The Daily Show on Facebook

R-Evolution

In May 2010 I took my first trip to Berlin to join Bloggertour 2010 organized by the Foreign Office of Germany. It was 16 of us from all around the world - from Costa Rica to China. It was a group of very special people, who, despite the racial and ethnical differences, were speaking the same language - the blogivism one.

But there was one, very special person for me, someone who understood perfectly what I was saying about my country and our mentality. Someone who had surprisingly similar stories about his country and also, at some point, had to become cynical in order to be able to keep on loving his land. Among all of the bloggers, he was the one who didn't need additional explanation. As you might have already guessed - he was Egyptian. No more words needed here.

***

Recent events in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan and other Arabic countries bring me a whole set of mixed feelings. On one hand, it's disturbing, since there is a possibility for them to repeat Iran's or Ukraine's destinies, where revolutions failed either to radical regimes or Russian influence. I would love to know that behind today's events there is or will be a plan, which will dramatically change the Arab world for better.

At the same time, I enjoy what's going on too much for an outsider.

Contemporary revolutions, in my opinion, have much more chances to be successful than it was even 30 years ago. They're highly coordinated, informative in details and unifying, not only for the resistants, but for all their supporters around the world - and it's usually millions. Every detail will either be reported, or tweeted, or facebooked, giving us the privilege of re-tweeting, re-posting and sharing - making us feel a part of it, even when we're sitting on the couch chewing Doritos.

Besides, since the education has also became more international in recent years, there is also a big chance for countries like Egypt or Tunisia, many citizens of which have studied or are still studying abroad, to build a strong state with devoted educated individuals ruling it. And finally, there are numerous proven political and social systems, that can reduce corruption, monopolies and human rights violations to minimum, which can be easily (or not so) implemented and bring a totally new meaning to their future.

But the best effect of these events, for me personally, is the reaction of the 30-year-rulers of other countries. Probably for the first time in their lives they clearly see that whatever they did in the past, whatever intentions they were motivated with and whatever they were trying to get out of - it will eventually come back to bite them in the ass. And no big brothers can secure them from it.

***

Revolution is barely a good thing. It is usually driven by unhappiness, followed by tragic events and causes deaths and injuries. It makes many miserable and others violent, it affects the economy and can destabilize the country and the region for a long time. But sometimes it just has to be done. Because there's nothing worse for nation's pride, than being quiet towards injustices and giving up the essential rights by settling for what's given from the above. And by above I certainly don't mean God.

Today we are all Egyptians. So let's hope it ends well.

Emin and Adnan: 17 months of change

Bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade celebrate their release after 17 months of imprisonment.

Bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade celebrate their release after 17 months of imprisonment.

This post is not about me. It's about two people, worth love and respect who had to go to prison. And came back.

And their friends and close ones, who stayed on the other side and didn't give up.

***

Emin Milli leaves the prison.

Emin Milli leaves the prison.

Azerbaijani bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade were arrested on July 8th, 2009 with the charge of hooliganism after being beaten by two athletic strangers in one of the downtown cafes. Evidences, such as street camera, which showed them, beaten, going to the police station to file complains, as well as many other evidences that could prove them innocent, were not accepted by the court. Testimonies that could help them, were not heard either. After four months of pre-trial detention, Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade were plead guilty and sentenced 2,5 and 2 years of detention respectively.

But let's start from the beginning.

The night Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade got arrested around 30 people were standing in front of the police station. It was only 30, because Emin asked us not to post any information, since they were promised to be released soon. Their friends were waiting outside the station the whole time, even after a group of policemen, pushed them on the road, saying they are not allowed to stand there, calling them a 'gang'. After 8 hours of waiting, Adnan called to say they are being arrested for 48 hours.

And then there was a snowball...

The campaign, we called AdnanEmin, was probably the biggest of its kind in Azerbaijan. No one will be able to tell you how exactly it all started. It just did. The moment they were arrested, it was posted on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Then moved to blogs, Radio Liberty, then to Yahoo Groups, e-mails, Skypes, Youtube, local media, international media, international organizations (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders and others) and NGOs, political parties and politicians. Then there were numerous statements (EU, CE, OSCE, US Department of State, UK Foreign Office, German Foreign Office and others), meetings, Emin and Adnan being included to agendas, Azerbaijani officials being asked about their case wherever they would go. Articles about them would be translated to countless number of languages, including Russian, English, Turkish, French, Spanish, Portugese, Macedonian, Hindu, Simplified and Traditional Chinese and many others. There was also the appeal of friends of Adnan and Emin to the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev , signed by hundreds of their supporters.

Emin's and Adnan's court hearings would gather up to 100 people, sometimes more. Protest actions would be held in several cities of the world, including Paris, London and Washington DC. Emin's birthday in October 14th, 2009 would be celebrated in LondonParisStrasbourgIstanbul, Ankara, BudapestNew York, Houston, Moscow, Basel and several other cities. There were videos for Adnan's birthday on July 13th (4 days after their arrest).

Then there was Hillary Clinton, mentioning the case of Adnan and Eminprior her visit to Azerbaijan, which was a big

Adnan Hajizade being interviewed by RFE/RL after his release in the courtroom.

Adnan Hajizade being interviewed by RFE/RL after his release in the courtroom.

shock.

"Now, it's only left for Obama to mention it", people would joke... And then, he did.

This campaign was held by a group of friends and supporters of Emin and Adnan, and their friends all around the world. This campaign was held without any financial support. This campaign was mostly intuitive and absolutely sincere.

It was so strong, that randompro-governmental or governmental voices would be left unnoticed.

Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade were released conditionally on November 18th and 19th, 2010. Today, they're home, with their families and friends. They are happy to breathe clean air, sleep in their beds and eat home made food. They say the conditions in prison were tolerable, detainees treated them with respect and guards did not use any violence on them. They have plenty of funny stories from prison and even more information they want to share with the world from almost 300 books they read there.

And they are still not done reading and watching all the material about their campaign.

***

On July 8th, before a group of policemen pushed us on the road away from the police station, the officer asked us who we were and why we were standing there.

"We're their friends", was our response.

"How many friends can a person have?", officer cynically smiled.

"Oh, you'll see", we thought.

And they did.

***

This post shouldn't be about me, but partly, it is. Because writing it makes me happy as never.

Welcome home, Emin and Adnan!

Fatalin in Berlin. Part I

"Hello, can I have a seat next to the window, but far from the wing?", - I asked. "Sure! No problem!", - a nice lady at Aeroflot's registration answered me.

When I got on the plane I saw my seat: next to the walkway, on the same line with the wing, in the emergency exit row, with a chair that doesn't lean back...

"The front row is empty, can I sit there?", - I asked the flight attendant.

"No, no, no, we don't even sell tickets for these seats. The oxygen bag's tier is broken and can fall off and hit you in the head!", - was the response.

"Thank you for choosing Aeroflot", - a voice came from the speakers.

After three hours in Sheremetyevo airport without Wi-Fi, ability to buy coffee or magazines, since they only accept roubles (yes, in an international terminal of the airport... and there are no currency exchange points), I kind of felt nostalgic about Baku airport. And was even more happy to get on the plane that was going to take me to Berlin - one of the cities I would have in my "visit-while-alive" list... if I had one.

And I wouldn't be mistaken.

***

What does it mean to be a blogger? Does/Should a blog carry the responsibility traditional journalism does? Should it be censored or "limited in freedom of speech"? These and many other questions were answered today, at the first day of Bloggertour - a get-together of bloggers from around the world, organized by the Foreign Office of Germany. The geography of the participants spreads from Costa-Rica to China. It's 15 of us - chosen by the German Embassies in our countries.

During our first day we had 4 equally interesting and informative meetings. Morning, or "where-can-I-get-coffee" part of the day has started with Robin Meyer-Lucht's lecture on German blogs and statistics. The afternoon was about German laws and how they affect or protect bloggers, presented by Jan Mönikes, expert in online law, or how he calls himself - blogging lawyer. After lunch Jens Berger, a political blogger and a jury member at the Deutsche Welle Blog Awards told us more about German blogosphere and political blogging here. The day has finished with Matthias Spielkamp and his presentation on relations between citizen journalism and traditional journalism in Germany.

So, today I've learned that:

  • One is not allowed by law to offend or criticize the president of Germany in his blog. Not because he's the best or wants to seem so, but because he doesn't decide anything. He's a symbol, just like the flag.
  • It is allowed to discuss Holocaust, but one goes to jail for denying it. One will also get detained for 5 years for wearing or in any way carrying swastika or any of the SS attributes.
  • "Mein Kampf" is not prohibited to own and keep at home, but can not be sold in Germany.
  • It is actually legal to drive or walk absolutely nude.. Unless someone is disturbed, then it becomes a case. A very funny one, apparently.
  • Bloggers have all rights the journalists in Germany have: they can join press unions, get the journalist social security and etc., while their articles are protected by copyright law.
  • Bloggers also carry the responsibility journalist have and also get sued.
  • Baku sells more vodka than Novosibirsk.
  • Croatian and Czech people can be surprisingly tall. Very tall.
  • Egyptians and Azerbaijanis should live together.
  • Uzbeks from Kyrgyzstan understand some Azerbaijani. Or at least Tolkun does.

And, well, should I say how great the crowd is? Oh, I will.

I also will talk about Germany and smoker rights.

Because I'm a blogger.

And we criticize.

To be continued...