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'Bloggers scream: We are searching for a real outlet for our thoughts, away from surveillance!'

Read the original Arabic article in Al Raya here.  Translated by Randa.

Cairo- Al-Rayah Newspaper – Raymaa Abdel-Ghafoor:

One of the events at the Cairo International Book Fair was a provocative symposium about “Blogs’ literature: Is it just a number of screams or scattered papers?” The symposium was run by the novelist, Youssef Al-Qaeed, in the presence of Shaban Youssef, the poet, and the young bloggers, Ghada Abdel-Aal, Mai Khaled, and Shady Asslan. Al-Qaeed mentioned that the subject of the symposium considers the ideology behind blogs, of which the new generations have made good use. He added that some of these blogs have made a good impression about this sound literature. The first and foremost of these blogs is “Ayza Atzawag: I Want to Get Married!” by Ghada Abdel-Aal who explained: “I derived the main idea of this blog, namely, “Ayza Atzawag: I Want to Get Married!” from the fact that youth at universities and schools are not allowed to express their viewpoints about this problem. She also clarified that the blogs represent an outlet for youth and that such blogs enable them to talk about whatever comes to their minds.

Furthermore, she referred to the fact that there are 60 thousand blogs currently launched and that the number of blogs’ visitors is rapidly increasing. In addition, she considers blogs honest words spoken from the heart, and are capable of being published. Ghada Abdel-Aal further added: “when I started to write my thoughts in blogs, I imagined that I was going to be vulnerable to youth ‘s attack; especially because I have focused in my blog on making guys get to know about a girl’s feelings and emotions during marriage phase, instructing them on how to deal with girls perfectly. On the contrary, I was astonished by the great number of the visitors of my blog, which turned into a book that far exceeded 10 thousand copies, and which has been published in four versions so far.

Then, Al-Qaeed has asked Mai Khaled, the novelist, to speak; she introduced the novels, “Sahar El-Trekwaz”, “Maqaad Fe Qaet Eward: A Seat in Eward Hall”. She also wrote a novel about bloggers; at the beginning of her speech, she said: “I came to learn about blogs by chance”. Then she added that she discovered that the number of Egyptian internet users who read blogs does not exceed 7%, and explained that there are 37 million blogs on the international level, 40 thousand of them are Egyptian blogs; she also manifested that the largest number of blogs, estimated as 35% of the total number of blogs, is launched in Qatar, and that 31% of them are released in Kuwait, which comes in the second status. Moreover, she pointed out that blogs’ literature started after the war on Iraq.

Then, she said: “when the writer Jihad El-Khazen wrote about blogs, they began to gain popularity; what contributed to this as well was when the great writer, Mohammed Hasanein Heikal spoke about blogs, mentioning that he is a faithful reader of “Bahia” blog.

Moreover, Al-Qaeed invited the young blogger, “Shady Asslan”, to start his speech. Shady emphasized: “there are a lot of things to be explored in the blogging world, and we need to take a chance to do this.”  Asslan revealed the fact that there are specializations in blogging; for instance, there are those bloggers who write poetry, and those who write short stories.

In an interposition by the poet, Shaban Youssef, he illustrated that, from his own point of view, blogs appeared as a result of persecution which writers face, the matter which made them resort to seeking an outlet for themselves by writing on the internet.

However, blogs are blamed of making literature devoid of its profound value, and it has rendered literature into some imaginary presumed stories that are totally far from reality.

The great writer Youssef Al-Qaeed then commented that bloggers’ literature still needs more attention, and that bloggers still need more reading, knowledge, culture, and interaction with older generations in literature. He explained that bloggers still need to benefit from the older generations’ lives, instead of escaping and hiding beyond computers’ screens which eliminated friendships and dialogue between a writer and his readers.