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Talk With Esra’a Al Shafei of

Today we had the pleasure of hosting Bahrain digital activist Esra’a Al Shafei, Founder and Executive Director of, for a chat about the amazing work of her community to promote “fierce but respectful debate among the diverse youth of the Middle East.” Esra’a started the Web site to increase understanding between Iranians and Arabs, and to move the online debate from one that was primarily a monologue to more of a discussion. She has worked on a number of minority rights and other online campaigns, including for Kurds (she refuses to stop identifying Kurds as from anywhere but ‘Kurdistan’) as well as the Baha’i in Iran. She also was a leader of the well-known Free Karim campaign, which she says she started during a lecture in college, among many other successful online efforts.

Esra’a emphasized that she sees blogging as nice, but is much more convinced by the power of YouTube videos, mashups, cartoons and other visual content to lead to change. Some of the group’s cartoons have been picked up in a number of newspapers in the region, and below is a mashup they made with clips from the movie (and popular graphic novel) Persepolis.

But this one is my favorite, a video of Iranian leaders dubbed over with speeches from Martin Luther King, Jack Kennedy, and Ghandi.

You can catch the full podcast of the talk here, and be sure to check out, which is available in English, Arabic and Persian, and includes contributers from across the Middle East, as well as the US and Canada.

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3 Responses to “Talk With Esra’a Al Shafei of”

  1. Interview with (Baha’i Rights) « My research progress Says:

    […] Source […]

  2. » The “Freedom to Scream” in Egypt I&D Blog Says:

    […] Many Egyptian bloggers have also been jailed for their writing; over 100 bloggers are facing criminal charges according to Gamal Eid of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information in Cairo. This includes Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, around whom there is a large online movement pressing for his freedom that was started by Esra’a Al Shafei. […]

  3. » Cyber-Hedonism? I&D Blog Says:

    […] Internet is somewhere in the middle of extreme media viewpoints like this one. We have far too many examples of young people using the Internet for positive social change to say that its all hedonism. […]