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Steps on the road .... Mutual Support Between the Internet and Human Rights

Steps on the road

Prologue

The importance of Internet is constantly increasing as a means of acquiring information and knowledge un most societies, yet its importance increase significantly in societies where free expression and exchange of information is under restriction, just as it is the case in the Arab world.
In spite of the limited participation, quantitatively, of the Arabic sites on the web, yet, some of these websites are becoming increasingly important because of the fastness of publishing news through the Internet, as well as providing comprehensive analysis and different viewpoints on the issues the Arab Internet users are interested in. Moreover, These websites allowed common users to participate through forums and comments on all kinds of public causes and issues.
Take Al-Jazeera, Islam online or Elaph websites and other news websites as a clear example, such websites are more readable today than many newspapers and more influencial sometimes than several radio & TV stations.
However the main question pertaining to Human Rights is always about where do the concepts of Human Rights stand in the midst of revolution of information? Can the Internet help promote human rights concepts and support human rights causes? How can we make better use of Internet pertaining to Human Rights.
Over a period of 14 months, HRInfo, worked on the issue of “Internet and Human Rights” and part of this work on the relation between Internet & Human Rights, HRInfo prepared a comprehensive study on the form and content of topics addressed by major Arabic websites regarding the issues of Human Rights, as well as the great potentials that the Internet can provide for human rights organizations & activists.
Also, in our endeavor to strengthen the mutual support between Internet and human rights, HRInfo held several training courses and workshops targeting activists and volunteers for capacity building and skill development regarding using Internet for advocacy as well as training tem on the basic concepts of Human Rights.
In February 2008, HRInfo held a workshop entitled “Internet and Human Rights – Mechanisms for Mutual Support”. The workshop was held in Cairo and attended by a number of influential human rights activists, bloggers and electronic media professionals. In this book we provide a comprehensive report on the discussions and activities of this workshop. The workshop meetings and discussions not only wondered about the possibility of mutual support and cooperation between Internet activists, e-media professionals on one side along with Human Rights activists on the other side, yet the workshop and discussions went further to provide recommendations and suggestions to implement and develop the mechanisms for such a mutual support.
This book included the main topics of discussions over the 2 days workshop, as well as (in Arabic only), some of the study papers provided by several participants on the different aspects of the issue. Publishing this book, we hope it would be a helpful guide that provides practical steps on the road toward implementing the mutual support between Internet and Human Rights.

Gamal Eid
Executive Director of
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information