It’s now been a few days since I arrived back home from Oslo, Norway, where I attended and spoke at the Oslo Freedom Forum alongside Libyan blogger, Ghazi Gheblawi, Tunisian digital activist, Lina Ben Mhenni and the courageous Bahraini human rights activist, Maryam al-Khawaja.
The four of us were on a panel called “Dawn of a New Arab World” which was introduced by Wael Ghonim and moderated by Philippa Thomas from BBC.
Here’s my full speech
Now as you can perhaps recall, I’ve been to numerous conferences throughout the past few years (yay the perks of being a blogger), some of which I’ve written about like the CSIS-organized conference that happened in Washington DC in 2007, and the transformative Second Arab Bloggers Summit that happened in Beirut in late 2009. Each was unique in its own way, and the Oslo Freedom Forum is no exception.
Amongst the speakers and attendees were former presidents, Nobel Peace Prize winners, renowned human rights and democracy activists and many inspiring personalities.
Simply put, it was quite a profound experience with a number of memorable highlights, all of which I’ll tell you about soon in a few days when I update this post… updated, erm… after a month, thanks to my unexpectedly busy schedule, which is still packed and busy. Sooo… rather than write a long post, I’m going to ask you to check out this round up of the event nicely written by Jay Nordlinger.
On a final note, I’d like to highlight the speech that moved nearly everyone at the Oslo Freedom Forum to tears. It’s by none other than the amazing Palestinian doctor, Izzeldin Abuelaish, and it’s called “Transcending Hate”.
Dr. Abuelaish grew up in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and has practiced extensively in both Israel and Gaza, including one of Israel’s main hospitals. In 2009, during Israel’s 22-day attack on Gaza, the Israeli Defense Force shelled Dr. Abuelaish’s home, taking the lives of his three daughters and niece. Instead of letting hate overcome him, Dr. Abuelaish’s message is one of courage in the face of tragedy
Observe how he weaves his speech with phrases and sentences inspired by Koranic verses. I bow to him in respect and adoration.