This is an informal translation of the letter that Alaa Abd El Fattah wrote to his sisters Mona and Sanaa on December 24, 2013. The original letter is in Arabic and can be accessed here. Although there is no doubt that the power and impact of aspects of the letter may get lost in translation, I find it absolutely necessary for everyone to read the letter, if only to get a sliver of what Alaa is currently experiencing.
On day one of the Arab Bloggers Meeting, participants threw themselves into workshops and discussions stemming from our central theme: civic expression and action online. Working in groups divided by interest — storytelling, digital security, data visualization, and Internet policy — we found that many of us are facing similar challenges in our work.
Many of us want to find new, innovative, compelling ways to tell stories. In the storytelling session, Syrian participants pointed to the mainstream coverage of violence in their country and raised the question: How do you find new ways to tell an old or familiar story? How do you work to keep the public actively engaged and interested in stories about a violent conflict over a long period of time? A common desire among participants was to develop strong methods for telling stories, presenting data, and making policy arguments in order to affect political or legal reforms.