Internet Ordeal

Posted May 30, 2011 from Syrian Arab Republic

Being able to connect with the rest of the world gave me the opportunity to swim freely in cyberspace of new notions, introduce me to new experiences, share various and all sorts of ideas, and know what that person has to say from the part of the world. Internet mingled me with the world, it made me understand better, learn more and be aware of details.

But this great ability to acquire more knowledge is considered dangerous by many countries and strict groups in many parts of the globe, including my country Syria. Such countries and groups abuse internet because they see that all the years they spent in brainwashing and deluding their nations or followers can vanish if people learned that there is always another way and they always have the right to choose it.

Connection speed in Syria is a pain and a headache. I used to spent half an hour just working the dial-up to get a connection, and when I became online I spend the other half hour praying that I stay connected even if was painfully slow. It appears that this slow connection is meant to be that way for two reasons: the first is to not encourage the middle class people to surf, and the second is to charge wealthier people high prices for faster connections. I used to use the internet at 4 in the morning so the web won't be crowded and I can at least stay connected without any intermissions. To send a CV, to email a dear friend or to submit my paper to a teacher made me pay The British Council a visit to use its speedy internet.

Many sites were blocked especially social networks like Facebook and Youtube, Blogs and Twitter. While the world was stepping into social information exchange era including multimedia hub, Syria stayed dwelling in html data while multimedia cost a lot of money.

I used to be obsessed and scared by not mentioning anything related to politics, religious or economic situation because many people were arrested and taken out from internet cafes for innocently surfing unapproved sites, or chatting about a taboo political or social matter. This tight limitation of freedom of expression and access to information limited sharing and developing of society, and left many people lagging behind the rest of the world.

Internet in Syria is not a habit for the majority of people and they are not encouraged to use it. I was never harassed in any internet cafe, they were friendly and somehow the connection was faster.

Internet helped me in my career since my job requires an instant access to information. This incredible tool facilitated the ability to reach and contact governmental institutions, companies, community and support groups, and schools. It melted the thick ice walls between many institutions considered once in the past higher than simpletons' reach, it empowered and encouraged many people, there is no levels or degrees in the cyberspace. It is a bitter sweet tool that can help and destroy you by allowing millions to know about you.

In a time when freedom of expression and equal access to knowledge and ideas has become synonymous with access to the Internet, World Pulse is asking women worldwide: What does "Universal Internet Access and Digital Freedom" mean to YOU? This month, we invite you to raise your voice by writing about the everyday obstacles you face and risks you take in accessing the Internet, or how you have used it to change lives and bring about positive change in your community. Click here to learn more about this campaign and how to participate.

Universal Internet Access

Comments 4

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  • Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh
    May 31, 2011
    May 31, 2011

    Dear Friends.

    I think most of incumbent leaders are trapped unaware with IT and Digital technology (DT). As they weren't very sure of what IT or DT could do to their political life.

    This is a very hard and complicated battle between the civilians and the politicians.

    What ever the situation may be, slowly and surely, this is the time for change. The political elites should at once accept this global challenge.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us on Pulsewire.

  • Jade Frank
    May 31, 2011
    May 31, 2011

    Dearest Nisan,

    Thank you for courageously sharing your testimony on the issue of access, and the obstacles Syrians face in the quest for expressing themselves freely online. I love this line, " It is a bitter sweet tool that can help and destroy you by allowing millions to know about you." So true. I admire your courage in leading this conversation and shining light on the real threat that sisters around the world face everyday to speak out.

    In solidarity, Jade

  • Daniela I
    Jun 03, 2011
    Jun 03, 2011

    Your words, to me, represent what WorldPulse is all about. The ability to communicate, to give and get information, to connect--that is empowerment. This is a foundation to all those things you mentioned--school, work, community. Thank you for showing your courage and sharing your story. As a volunteer for this campaign, I want you to know that we value your testimony and we will be using it in our advocacy campaign.

  • Breese McIlvaine
    Jul 05, 2011
    Jul 05, 2011

    Over the last month, you and other PulseWire members from around the world expressed your views on the importance of Internet access, and the barriers they face. The testimonies address real barriers—like cost—where paying fees at an Internet café can mean skipping a meal that day, or battling frequent power outages can make blogging one post, a multi-day task. Women have also shared security risks faced in connecting online—from the dangers of walking to and from Internet cafes to government censorship. Yet despite the challenges and risks women endure, what has emerged is that the benefits of Internet access outweigh these challenges, and connecting to the web has enabled friendships across oceans, access to fellowships and funding opportunities, and a venue for any woman—anywhere—to have a global voice.

    Meanwhile, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, emphasized the vast benefits of Internet access in his report to the Human Right Council arguing that access is a universal human right, and urging governments around the world to pass laws protecting the freedom of internet access and information. "Given that the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states," - Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur and author of the report.

    This Action Blogging Campaign will not be the last of our efforts to advocate for universal access to the Internet. Here at World Pulse we hear your concerns and are committed to addressing them. As an online community of women leaders, we want to make sure that women’s voices and their specific concerns about this important issue are heard.

    Read the testimonies from PulseWire members around the world >>

    Read the UN report >>