phoebe ayers wrote:
On 10/9/07, David Strauss
Cary Bass wrote:
The Jury for Wikimania 2008 bids have met and are
pleased to announce
that Wikimania 2008 will be held in Alexandria, Egypt.
I'm offended that the
desire to have Wikimania hop around the globe
(rotation) trumps the egregious history Egypt has with LGBT and other
civil rights (local laws). While visitors to Egypt are certainly not at
the same risk, I refuse to spend any money in a country that -- as
recently as 2004 -- sentenced someone to 17 years of prison and two
years of hard labor for posting a personal ad on a gay website. A
blogger was imprisoned in 2007 for four years for "insulting Islam and
defaming the President of Egypt." Jimmy Wales even attended the
Amnesty conference denouncing the censorship. No legal or cultural
reforms since give me confidence that the situation has improved.
Wikimedia and its projects have an abundance of people from marginalized
groups and political advocacy organizations participating at every
level. A place that persecutes, censors, and prosecutes such groups
under the banner of snuffing out "Satanism" is not a location that
affirms the pluralism and intellectual freedom of Wikimedia.
People raised these objections early in the bidding process, but I have
As a jury member, I do not remember any comments from you on this
subject, David; perhaps I missed them. At any rate, what are you
trying to accomplish by sending this message after the winner was
announced, and not before when we were discussing the bids?
Other people raised these objections during the bidding process; I
didn't have to. Even if no one had brought the issue up, everyone on the
voting team should have been aware enough of the problems to them under
consideration without further prompting.
I thought it was a foregone conclusion that Egypt's human rights record
would cripple the bid enough that it wouldn't win.
Wikimania and Wikimedia are both global in scope,
which means that
while we can condemn censorship and loss of human rights everywhere
So the "condemnation" amounts to docking a modest number of points for
we must also take into account a global range of
What is this supposed to mean? How can we balance condemnation with
focus specifically on free knowledge, and I expect that will be
highlighted at the conference.
Even putting gay rights aside, Egypt's record of imprisoning political
and religious dissidents is directly counter to affirming "free knowledge."