Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A New Jersey Mom blogs for human rights in the Muslim world (Yemen)

As with Heather Armstrong (Utah) last week on ABC Nightline, another start-up "mommy" blogger has hit the media big time. This time, the blog is called “Armies of Liberation” about attempts to bring civil rights and political sanity to repressive regimes in the Middle East, with a recent focus on Yemen. The blog pays particular attention to the case of Yemeni journalist Abdul Karim al-Khaiwani, for reporting on a local rebellion in a remote part of the desert country on the southern end of the Arabian peninsula. In Yemen, as in many middle eastern countries (like Egypt), amateur and professional reporters and bloggers can be imprisoned or possibly executed for stirring dissent against religious or political authority.

The blogger is Jane Novak, a “stay-at-home” mom in Monmouth County, New Jersey, who knows no Arabic and entered the area of political blogging out of her own moral and political convictions. Today, Robert F. Worth wrote a detailed story about her and the blog on p A14 of The New York Times today (May 20, 2008), titled “A blog banned in Yemen, but written in New Jersey; defending a jailed journalist from afar,” with the online edition story called “a living-room crusade via blogging,” link here (registration may be required).

What is different about journalistic story is that the reporter is a national of his own country. Other attention to journalists recently have focused on American and European journalists – the (Paramount) movie about Daniel Pearl “A Mighty Heart,” or recent stories about how handsome, conspicuous and omnipresent British journalist Dan Rivers had to hide from authorities with hats and disguises in Myanmar after the cyclone. Also, the media has paid a lot of attention recently to calls to strengthen journalists’ shield laws in the USA.

Novak’s website appears to have two separate blog threads, and also refers to the Weblog Awards, which I’ll have to look at some more soon. Her stories (including discussions o poverty and living conditions in Yemen now) make compelling reading, and sound like a movie script (Participant, perhaps) in progress.

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