*Measurments* of freedom of expression

It never seize to amaze me how we always manage to busy ourselves in discussing the ‘measurments’ of freadom of speech whenever the issue is brought. We are smart-asses, aren’t we? When there are measurments, then we can always fit our freedom of speech to our own needs.

On the last day of the follow up meeting of the YLVP in Alexandria, we had a press conference at the Swedish Institute to communicate what we have been doing to the Egyptian press. After introducing ourselves and giving a brief information about the YLVP program, the Swedish Ambassador Tommy opened the door for questions.

Most of the questions were friendly. They asked about the program, our projects and the netwrok. One journalist, whom according to Wael Abbas, works for the governments’ official newspaper asked: Did you have any discussion about the measurments of freedom of speech in your program? because as we all know, you have picked Wael Abbas, who is an Egypatian blogger that is known of his dirty language.

Wael answered him in a firm angry tone: When you live under a dictator regime, you don’t discuss freedom measurments, you discuss freedom itself.

In truth, Wael does use a dirty language in his posts. He usually curse and swear public officials and even Hossni Mobarak himself. He rationalize it of using the common language that most of us use in our daily interactions in the streets – which is very true -. While I may not use such language in my writings, I respect Wael’s choices of practicing his expression freedoms.

I was impressed by the level of freedom of expression allowed for the Egyptian press. This is one thing that bloggers managed to snatch and help mainstream media to fill. They really pushed up their freedoms. One taxi driver rationalized it that the regime had to allow this in order to avoid a people’s burst because of the great pressure they face on a daily basis.

In Jordan, we have been talking about *responsible* freedom of expression for a long time now. Shouldn’t we just drop all of those vocabularies and focus on the freedom of expression itself?


  1. good for Wa’el. I like his answer.
    Its true how government backed journalists would always attack regardless of your message/opinion if it were to be not what the government prescribed.


  2. Very well said…
    the question is: can we define borders to which extent our freedom of Expression is allowed?
    its difficult.. there will always be someone who will feel offended.. but i think we can push those borders gradually.. until we manage to deliver our opinion.. and message.


  3. I can see how some people would be offended by something like dirty language. My father is Italian from Brooklyn so the “f” curse was like every other word, even if he wasn’t upset about anything. Sometimes I find myself doing it, but I try not to. Something will always offend somebody, so I think the best thing to do is to not listen to or read what offends you.


  4. mab3oos, I was impressed by his answer actually 🙂

    Marie, I would tell them to cool down 🙂

    Samer, so true! there is always someone who will be offended!

    Tina, good advice, I agree :). Sounds like a cool father 🙂


  5. Wherever you go, there are restrictions on freedoms, including the freedom of speech. There are laissez-majeste’ laws in several European countries. You cannot incite hatred or call for Jihad in Friday prayers, and Holocaust questioning or denying is also illegal and punishable by the law in many countries (the fact that these are viewed as positive ones doesn’t change the fact that they are restrictions). I’m in no way defending dictatorships or media censorship, I completely believe in a people’s right to criticize their governments and rulers and have power over them, but what I’m trying to point out is that “measurements” and restrictions exist everywhere. There is no absolute freedom of speech.
    What’s impressive about Abbas’s answer I think is the fact that he said what he said, on Egyptian soil, as an Egyptian citizen on the record.


  6. Actually you just fit your needs to these measurments. What a hypocrite you are ya Fadi! you respect Wael’s choices of practicing his expression freedoms, but others NO. I assume this is what you learned from the YLVP…Young leaders!!!


Do you have something to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s