New spheres of expression, long closed to us, are now open. We met in Tunis with a very different set of priorities to 2008
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 8 October 2011
"....What you probably haven't read about though is the history of the painstaking online activism that paved the way for the revolutions that toppled dictators. To hear that story, you needed to be in Tunis this week, where a group of leading bloggers from more than 20 countries across the Middle East and beyond were gathering for the first time since the revolutions began.
There's no doubting the Third Arab Bloggers Meeting was a special event. This was not a conference about the revolutionaries; this was a conference for those very revolutionaries. And more notably, it was the first time we were able to speak publicly and freely in an Arab capital....
In 2008, nobody could anticipate these monumental changes that were to sweep across the region two years later. Back then these challenges and our role in overcoming them were very familiar. We had grown up with them; we struggled to organise, to co-ordinate across diverse groups, and to circumvent the dire conditions of censorship and persecution as the first steps to bring about needed changes. The discussions, general and mostly speculative in nature, were about possibilities rather than concrete plans.
But as we sit here and discuss the success stories from around the Arab world, and contemplate how we can contribute this expertise towards the benefit of others still struggling, we have also come to realise that this is only the beginning....."