Wael Abbas

Wael Abbas
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I'd like to thank the International Center for Journalists and the Knight Foundation for this prestigious award, and for their recognition of the bloggers worldwide, and in Egypt in particular.

I believe it is the first time a blogger has received a journalism award. Back in my country, they do not receive awards. Instead, all that bloggers receive are threats, intimidation, accusations of breaking the law – and sometimes jail sentences.

This Award came at a critical time. I had started to question what I was doing, and whether it would change anything in my country for the better. It was natural that I questioned my work because my work changed my life – and unfortunately, it was a change for the worse. I am now classified as an opponent of the government. I lost my job as a journalist and now it is extremely difficult to get a decent job and at the same time continue blogging.

This Award has given me new hope and faith that I am pushing in the right direction. It’s a vote of confidence not just in me, but also in the growing community of bloggers in Egypt and the region. I see it as a sign that I must keep going.

I never wanted my name to be associated with violence, torture and police brutality. I never wanted to deal with issues such as corruption, forgery, bribery and sexual harassment. All I wanted was for my country to change, to become more democratic and to recognize the basic rights of its citizens. So, I focused my work on making people aware of what was going on and helping them understand their rights. I feel now that it’s an honor to receive an Award that supports and promotes the things that are most important to me.

The fight against a regime that is both cruel and stubborn, a regime that signs international treaties, but seldom recognizes them or puts them into action, will be long and bitter. It’s a regime that uses its alliances with world powers as a weapon against its own people. But as long as there are people who stand by the truth and support those who tell the truth, there is hope for change.

Finally, I'd like to thank Knight Fellow Stephen Franklin for nominating me. I also would like to thank my family, who did not know what I was doing behind their backs. When they found out, of course they freaked out at first, but then understood and respected my work.

I would like to dedicate this award to all the Egyptian bloggers who have dared to speak up, demonstrate and protest, and pay the price. They could have gone through life the easy way. Instead, they chose to blog.