Arab Reform Forum 2008 – Media, Democracy and Social Responsibilty


Frankly speaking, I could not expect that this is the 5th session of the Arab Reform Forum which had been and still from 2004 till now adopted by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BibAlex), yeah, the time is running very fast, in west and developed countries they sometimes exceed the speed of the time, therefore, I always wonder, what about us (I mean the Arab-Muslim World)? As fixed before by the organizational committee at BibAlex headed by Dr. Mohsen Youssef to affect this forum by the beginning of March each year to start with the spring season which was under the title of Media, Democracy and Social Responsibility, and also to be followed by the Arab Youth Forum which has been held this year for the 3rd time from Feb.28th.2008 till Mar.01st.2008 under the title of the Role of Media in Diffusing the Culture of Peace and Respecting the Other, because, the main theme of the two forums was the same, hence, this year the Arab Reform Forum has taken place from Mar. (02nd – 04th) 2008,

Moreover, this year the main theme inspired from the Arab Media Charter which has aroused many debates till now, and being attacked and criticized by most of the civil society, human rights defenders, intellects and independent media, and unfortunately it had been adopted at the site of the Arab League in Cairo, Egypt on Feb 12th 2008 and ratified by the most of the Arab Ministers of Media except Lebanon and Qatar.

Furthermore, this charter makes the local competent authorities entitled not to give a license to any private independent media channel, unless being committed with the codes of the charter e.g. the limitation to criticize any of Arab authoritarian regimes, political or religious leaders due to the augment of both protecting religion, ethics and dignity of the states, in order to justify and legitimize the idea, and thereafter this charter which has been initiated mainly by both Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

In this session of a very important topic in respect of the media, the existence of Arab Well-Known Media channels was rare, we do not know, why? Are they invited, or Not? Why do not they attend in a matter belong 100% to their own business, even though, sometimes they cover some topics very much weaker than this? Therefore, we did not see Aljazeera, Al-Arabia, LBC or MBC existed except the local TVs which are not well-known like the channels I highlighted.

Unbelievably, I heard a declaration at the inauguration of the forum from the youth who participated at the forum of youth representing in our point of view a declaration of yielding to both the said charter and to the elder generation existed in power in our Arab world, the later who still see the world in a short point of view, because they are beneficiaries of this lag, the most ironic thing that the young lady and the gentleman who pronounced this declaration alleged that this declaration representing the Arab youth, however, it is not, because it represents only the youth who drafted it, not more, because to generalize this matter, it has to be exposed to voting by the majority of 200 Million of youth from the Gulf till the Ocean, according to the proper quantitative standards which described by Mr. Sayed Yassin on the first day.

We always send our deepest regards to BibAlex as a result of offering these forums which represents a good outlet for people to express themselves without oppression and really BibAlex is one of the best hide parks in this region, however, we are supposed to get over the stage of heating, because, we see the same practices over the last 4 years at the BibAlex from the same attendees, and of course more than that in youth forum, because, most of the time when there is a workshop or a session, the Arab attendance always fall in the mistake of not focusing in the theme or the topic presented by speakers, however, they focus on being out of topic and replying each other, and this remark I noticed over all the sessions and workshops, and it was very sharp in youth forum over and over again, sometime we felt that they forgot the topic of the forum and came just to reply to each other.

The foresaid phenomenon represents one element of our lag (missing the culture of dialogue), not only that but also, not being well prepared or having an agenda for dialogue, therefore, consequentially, we lose the Inter-cultural and the Inter-religious dialogue opportunities with the occident/west, even if it is Arab Summit like Damascus one. Therefore, it is recommended for the coming Arab Youth Forums events at BibAlex to apply the following:

1- Anyone desires to participate in such forum should submit a thesis or a paragraph about the theme in a reasonable quantity of words or lines, which is better.

2- To write a comment or a simple analysis based on objectivism (advantages and disadvantages) for any article or book or story or blog for authors not belong to the nationality of the applicant, therefore, there is a very big range of selection of Arab authors from Gulf to Ocean, and then the applicants are free to select topics, however, the ratios of topics have to be balanced (1 in politics: 1 in philosophy: 1 in sociology: 1 in media etc…..)

3- An equal committee from both youth and intellects will take the charge of applicants’ evaluation.

The above-mentioned method is typically the way to select people for international conferences and a one considerable reason of success thereof. Also, it will make the participants more active and will be aware enough to the other Arab regions’ cultures, therefore, we will recognize more the other, especially the Arabs.

Sometimes, we feel ashamed, because until the beginning of 1970s of the last century we were proud of producing tens of books per month, however, right now the whole Arab intellectual product is less than 1% of the international one.

(We are the nation of reading not reading anymore).

As we know, no liberty will be extracted by laws, especially the freedom of expression, because according to the experience of the developed countries there is neither limitation nor prevention being imposed upon media or press, as a result of the dynamic stability of the acting powers in democratic system represented in (executive power, legislative power, neutral fair magistracy, media and pressure groups “parties, civil society and societies”) all working by the force of action and reaction (inspired from physics) and provided to a long time of practicing in that respect, consequentially, they are right now apprentice in dealing with such matters. Therefore, provided to the said fact, we can interpret why they are not being annoyed or interrupted by a movie either Da-Vinci Code or any pornographic movies about Jesus the Christ or his mother Mary (the Virgin), because they are matured, wise and not superficial, because they know that this type of media will never affect negatively upon those religious great icons.

Not only that but also, in occident they almost follow the experimental methodology which based on both rationality and objectivity, therefore, when someone submit or compile for example any type of media, they respect him, however, if anyone does not like that, he can submit a contradicted media in manner of word by word, text by text, page by page…..etc.

The situation here is vice versa, most of us is not used to deal with freedom of expression, because we still have lag in all of (good socialization, good content education based on a real academic freedom and scientific research, strong civil society and fair media), therefore, we can explain the fragile fury of the people when there is something may come in contact with religion, we have 3 genuine examples, concerning the inconvenient cartoons of Prophet of Islam Mohamed (PBUH), the declarations of the Pop of the Holly Vatican in his lecture about Islam and recently Dutch documentary that called (Fetnah/Insurrection) that released few days before, and our failure to use these good opportunities to market for our culture in the Occident accordingly according to the reasons mentioned here-above.

Sometimes the regimes in the Muslim World using these matters of religion and ethics in politics and this is very sever image to exploit religion for political targets, as the subject of matter we talking about right now in respect of this Arab Media Charter.

We are against restrictions imposed upon the freedom of expression, we are against detaining the free neutral journalists, because the more you respect freedom of expression, the more your country image looking perfect, because respecting the other’s expression is the first code of respecting the other.

There is no country can be affected negatively by an article, a TV drama or a movie as we heard recently in some Arab Muslim countries, therefore, I’m wondering, why the lawyers who sued some journalists alleging deforming the political symbols or the dignity of the country did not sue the cabin who caused harmfully the bread disaster and a sharp degradation of the socio-economic criteria of the Egyptian people.

Finally, we heard also in that forum some stereotype speeches affirming that the Arab people still illiterate and non-qualified for both freedom of expression and democracy accordingly, therefore, we want to confirm that the opposite is the right, because the people who assumes or alleges that are ignorant and unaware, or just denying the truth, because, as we observe both TV Sat Channels and Internet Forums in may socio-political, socio-economic and cultural topics belong to the Arab world, or in some events like the 2 recent wars against Iraq and then against Lebanon respectively, most of the people especially the youth are aware enough to speak and express ideas and comments much better many times than the apprentice politicians in power and intellects, because, illiteracy is not just knowing reading and writing, because, some animals according to (Pavlov Theory – “Stimulus and Response”) can speak or write or even draw pictures without the proper understanding, however, the illiteracy is considered as both lag and lack in fields of rights, knowledge, dialogue, culture, progress and development, in addition to having the opportunity to have the mental planning with a vision that based on a real scientific research.

Last but not least, hope my proposals here-above are taken in consideration, because I hope the next session of the Arab Reform Forum much stronger than this.

Kindest regards,

Ahmed Moustafa

Socio-economic specialist,

Human Rights Activist, Blogger & Youth Trainer

Representative of EAFBA, WAMY, EACLHR and CFE

Mob/Cell Tel.: 002-010-9229411




Monitoring the Elections Session


Really it was a good and unprecedented step from the American Center (Alexandria) to adopt for the first time a session destined for the human rights, especially in a very thorny area like monitoring the elections, whereas we expect here in Egypt having the municipalities’ elections in April 2008.

Frankly speaking, I (Ahmed Moustafa) and Mr. (Mohamed khalid El-Tonsy) the presenters of this session did not believe that either Mrs. Samia Khalil the responsible for the activities at the center or Mr. Justin Sibrell (the Director and the First Secretary of the US Ambassador in Egypt) will accept having this session and scheduled it for February 25th 2008 in their program.A lot of people who visit the American center was wondering, really, is it true? some people I know could not believe that I would be the panelist, because they feel that it was very late for me, not for a reason belongs to me personally, but for reasons belong to some people thinking by mistake that I’m furious and not qualified to present a presentation for a difficult human rights political issue like that.

A lot forgot that I was one of the pioneers who studied both presentation and organization skills during an intensive course at AMIDEAST Alexandria funded by Ford Foundation from April till August 2000, not only that but also, my studies are political sciences, therefore, I have both the academic and professional practical sides as apprentice in that field.The session was divided to 2 parts, the first one I did present a data show presentation covering the theoretical side concerning the meaning of the monitoring process, a historical note of monitoring which took place for the first time in Europe in Moldavia 1857, the objectives of the process, why we monitor the elections, the conditions of international and local monitoring, the fields covered by monitors and last giving some terminologies, furthermore, I revealed the good impact of the human rights and monitoring the elections upon the economic field, and gave examples like the nomination for World-Cup for Football Soccer and how we failed as Egyptian in that nomination in comparison with both S. Africa and Morocco when one of the factors was the human rights, however, on the other side both elections in Mauritania and Morocco respectively and the volume of socio-economic aids they got accordingly.

On parallel Mr. Mohamed El-Tonsy started to talk about the association (the Egyptian Association for Legal and Constitutional Human Rights, then he was describing the facts and the real situation in some constituencies here in Alexandria, giving objective analysis for the process concerning both presidential and parliamentary elections in respect of both advantages and disadvantages, then stated the results and finally expressed our recommendations for having better elections and monitoring.The second part was as usual for questions which were really good, and some of them were frustrating, because at least 4 of the attendees asked about the feasibility of having mentoring in a country in their point of view still has a lag and lack in democracy practices, therefore, we answered that if anyone thinking in that way, we will never get progressed, because the percentage of the people who really participated in the latest elections in Alexandria was ranging in between (15-20)% and this is a very low rate, and without any doubt, without the efforts of the pioneers of both civil society and intellects here in Egypt, the law would never be changed to authorize them to monitor the elections.The second main question was about the women participation in both elections process as a candidate/nominee and as a voter, because in Egypt we have very little participation of women in parliament, therefore we highlighted on having the proposed rational list, not only that, to create some programs adapted to better women democratic practices and empowerment.

The third question was about the youth and their political participation especially in the existed parties, therefore, I answered that they have to try the parties, even if, we have many conservations upon their current role in society especially in achieving some progress in both reform and change in our country, however, it is better to recognize this experience, because it is worthy, even if there are some short, at least to participate actively and having the honor of the trial.The fourth one was about the Copts/Christians in Egypt and why they are marginalized according to their assumptions from the real political participation, I answered them that I really like the Christian community here in Egypt, because it is really well organized either in church or outside the church, and I shall give you a very genuine example in respect of the unemployment, the Christian community give each unemployed Christian citizen a monthly incentive, not only that but also, the church helps always the sons of their ministry in education, health and in finding a good job, the matter that we miss as Muslims in our life (the social solidarity), therefore due to this perfect experience, why they are not participating actively in political parties in bigger numbers and due this organization of their life they can reach good ranks in parties by-which qualifying them to be nominees/candidates for any acting parties here in Egypt.

The fifth question was about the oppression of the state of having such activities like that concerning monitoring the elections and the other political activities, therefore, we answered that Egypt ratified all the agreements and treaties that belong to human rights, therefore, in case of violations from its side, it may bring either blame, criticism or sanctions upon us, if not achieving a progress in that field as the whole world, moreover, the human rights are not a grant or a package gifted by governments whatsoever, but they are basic and fundamental rights for mankind Allah/God had given it to him from the time of creating the human being, but the problem not in states, but in both media, civil society and education which did not act and misapply their right role in society until now concerning raising the public awareness about human rights, because to claim for your right as an individual is not favorable as the claim of a group of people in the said forms.

At the end, we mentioned that we do this awareness because we love our country Egypt, not the opposite, then we proposed if we could cooperate with the center to have a 6 month program concerning this important issue of awareness to reach the people who really need to know or to be helped, not only that to have another sessions concerning raising the awareness about the laws that belong to human rights especially, Labor Law in force No. 12/2003 and the Law of Civil Society No. 84/2002.Last but not least, we would like to thank and send or best regards to all the people who participate in that session.

Best regards,

Ahmed Moustafa

Human Rights Activist,

Socio-economic specialist,

Blogger & Youth Trainer


Mob: 0020109229411

email: or