#AB14 Kicks off in Amman: Iraqi and Syrian Bloggers Missing Thanks to Red Tape

It was a bitter sweet reunion for Arab bloggers and activists at the Fourth Arab Bloggers Meeting, which kicked off in Amman, Jordan, this morning.

The four-day gathering, bringing around 80 bloggers, activists and academics from across the region and beyond, includes a three-day retreat for Arab bloggers, which culminates with a public meeting on Thursday.

Missing from the meeting were prominent bloggers Egyptian Alaa Abdel Fattah and Syrian Bassel Al Safadi, both in jail in their countries.

Palestinan Abir Kopty tallies up those missing:

Bahraini activist Mohammed Al Maskati fondly remembers Abdel Fattah – a constant at all previous gatherings:

The Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah was supposed to be with us at the Arab Bloggers meeting. Unfortunately, he is in prison [in his country] because of his opinion

Red tape also prevented some invited Iraqi and Syrian bloggers from making it to the gathering, generating complaints about the difficulties facing certain Arabs when traveling in Arab countries.

Jordanian Sara Obeidat suggests:

Syrian Leila Nacahwati echoes this sentiment:

Despite the no shows, the meeting is generating positive vibes and energy.

Global Voices executive director Ivan Sigal is ecstatic:

Not everyone is as excited. Others have other grievances.

Security guru Jacob Appelbaum feels left out*:

Ali Al Amer complains that all the tweets, on the event hashtag #ab14, are in English [Ar]**:

All the tweets in the Arab Bloggers Meeting hashtag are in English

And Yemeni blogger Afrah Nasser makes a note on gender representation***:

For more on the meeting, check out the hashtag #ab14

Here's a list of the Twitter handles of attendees

* We love Yacoub
** Not all tweets are in English
*** We have a Yemeni male and female on board.

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