Friday, June 14, 2013 | 8:53 AM
The Internet has spawned an explosion of online communication, allowing those who were silenced to finally speak up. During the Arab Spring, the Web became as a tool for expressing dissent and organizing demonstrations. Signs of a backlash are now emerging and the Big Tent Tunis will explore the threat of growing government censorship
Our event is taking place in Tunis as the Freedom Online coalition gathers there for the first time in an Arab country. The coalition was launched in The Hague in November, 2011 when Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the coalition at our Big Tent. Fourteen countries including Canada, Estonia, Sweden and the USA joined to promote Internet freedom.
Google’s Global Head for Free Expression Ross LaJeunesse will outline our goal to discuss the limits of free expression online around the globe, and in particular, in the Arab world. We’ll host a debate on the state of free expression in Tunisia with Ahmed Gaaloul, member of the Shoura Council of the Ennahdha Party and Slim Amamou, a Tunisian blogger and the former Secretary of State for Sport and Youth. We’ll also hear about the perspective from other parts of the region from Reem Al-Masri, Digital Education Director of 7iber inc, which develops training material for teachers to encourage the use of digital storytelling and social networking. The event will culminate in a debate between filmmaker Nadim Lahoud and feminist writer Joumana Haddad about art, feminism and censorship in the Arab world.
Although we at Google are biased towards people’s right to free expression, we also realize that this freedom has limits. Our goal in Tunis is encourage the Freedom Online coalition to continue fighting for online freedom - and to jump-start a debate about the state of online freedom in the Arab world.