#AB11 You blog, you’re an Arab. Oops, but you’re Palestinian!!

Long story short:
My Palestinian friends and I were denied entry-visa to Tunisia. Latest news say that the Tunisian embassy in Ramallah declared that the Tunisian ministry of interior refuses to clarify why it banned the Palestinian delegation from entering Tunisia. And according to France Press Agency that called the Tunisian ministry of interior, the ministry refused to comment on the incident.

Details?
Last month I received a call saying that I was nominated along with a group of Palestinian bloggers from the West Bank, 48 lands & Gaza to the 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting in Tunisia this year 3-6 October 2011. My heart jumped out of my chest and I was just happily overwhelmed. That was not because I’m from Gaza and I don’t get the chance to travel so easily, not because that personally I just had my first-time travel just last June and this would be my second, not because I’ve been\still harassed by the local authority of Hamas since the moment I set foot in Gaza on 27 July 2011 while “NO ONE” is managing to solve my problem, not because I finally managed to get my passport back from Hamas interior security and I’ll be able to use it again, no! I was getting the chills every time I have the thought of participating in such an event because it’s being held in Tunis, the bride of the Arab revolutions. The whole idea of meeting bloggers, activists and tweeps from all over the region who I know many of them in the wide world of internet, the experience I would’ve got from all of the experts who should give us some of their knowledge is just beyond amazing but for me there was nothing I waited for more than setting foot in the land of Bouazizi.

Usually and since ever Palestinians face all kind of difficulties in order to travel. Best case scenario, you would miss the opening day or half of the days of the big event you’re invited to, if you made it in the first place! But usually, you wouldn’t get the visa at all. Last month, I was also among a group of Palestinians invited to a summer camp in Lebanon for Palestinian activists from the region. I missed it and apologized as I was having my final exams, but my group decided to go. They were told it’ll be arranged for them to cross Rafah crossing to Egypt. They have to wait there for a few days and they’ll be given the visas to Lebanon. They waited 14 days on their own expense, were told they’re rejected for security reasons to finally managing to get some strongly influential people to intervene and get them the visa. My friends missed the event, had to be hosted by some family with no financial coverage and taken on some sight-seeing. So, the whole trip had no point then.

It is inevitable that the Palestinians would be going through hell in order to be out but wasn’t the Arab Spring supposed to change that?
This subject was discussed on twitter and had different reactions, but everyone agreed on the necessity of having an explanation for what happened to us. Some of the tweets I liked:
@tounsiahourra (Tunisian): I boycott this meeting. This transitional government doesn’t represent me. Its ministry of interior refused to let the Palestinians enter. This ministry is racist. Shame.
@JawazSafar: is it true that Palestinian bloggers were refused entry to Tunisia? the same Tunisia that had a revolution this year? #AB11
@tounsiahourra: “Al Karama” Tunisian Flotilla managed to get into Gaza today, excellent but there are Palestinians who couldn’t cross their borders to Tunisia because of Tunisia.
@hamfarouk: The Palestinian lives under the Israeli oppression, American veto, European guilt towards the Jews and finally the Arab ban for his young bloggers.
@lilianwagdy There are Turks, Americans and Europeans @ the Arab Bloggers meeting but no Palestinians #Shame #Fail #AB11

A Palestinian friend, and a blogger living in Cairo -Asmaa Alghoul shared this on her facebook: “This is Tunisia’s government after revolution: They gave visas for tens of Arab bloggers to participate in a conference with Global Voices while rejecting all the Palestinian participants from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the 48 lands. They made me ,as a Palestinian, sign a pledge forcing me to commit to the visa’s specific duration and I was the only one to be told to do so of all the Egyptian bloggers I was with and at the end I was rejected…Shame!”
Another friend “Samy” commented on my facebook status saying: “Arab revolution is an oxymoron!”

Today is the very first day of the big meeting. I am watching from behind my laptop screen and you can do that too. Follow the great hashtag #AB11 on twitter.
While following I read some interesting criticism from some participants such as:
@maroooo: You don’t speak neither English, nor French? Then you’re not an Arab #ab11. That was his comment on the fact that it is a meeting for ARAB bloggers while the speakers speak English and French.
@lilianwagdy:with Due respect to the guys of the Tor Project, we revolted so we wouldn’t have to be anonymous when we use the internet.. #AB11
@trikinesrine: why not mention the impact of Arab revolutions on Spain, and the USA!!! (wall street) #AB11
@lilianwagdy: Ok now two American geeks from the Tor Project are on stage now #AB11… I think we went to the wrong conference #WhereAretheArabSpeakers ?

I wish if I was there with them bitching and criticizing right from the hot spot, but all I have is the “retweet” button.
Thanks for everyone who worked hard to get us the visas, thanks for who nominated us and for the participants who remembered us, and that one nice Tunisian lady who really felt the injustice and thought that boycotting the event is her way of saying no to what happened. Finally, the least that could be done here is giving us an explanation why we weren’t given the visas.

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4 Responses to “#AB11 You blog, you’re an Arab. Oops, but you’re Palestinian!!”

  1. asmagaza Says:

    I loved it .. you said everything I felt .. Thank you for your wonderful words…
    Asmaa Alghoul

  2. وزارة الداخلية التونسية تمنع 12 مدوناً ومدونة فلسطينيين من المشاركة في “مؤتمر المدوّنين الثالث” بحجة أنه غير مرخص « Says:

    […] التونسية”. وكتبت المدونة إباء رزق (من قطاع غزة)، على مدونتها (باللغة الانكليزية): ” كان من المفترض ان أشارك في […]

  3. فلسطيني؟ ممنوع!! « Mahmoud Gaza Blog Says:

    […] التونسية”. وكتبت المدونة إباء رزق (من قطاع غزة)، على مدونتها (باللغة الانكليزية): ” كان من المفترض ان أشارك في […]

  4. Nawfal Says:

    حرمان المدونين الفلسطينيين من المشاركة وتضامن المدونين العراقيين
    http://iraqiblogs.blogspot.com/search/label/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%82%D9%89%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%20%D9%84%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%86%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%20%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%86%D8%B3%20arab%20bloggers%20meeting

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