[Foundation-l] Reply to Mark

Oldak Quill oldakquill at gmail.com
Fri Feb 29 12:11:51 UTC 2008

On 29/02/2008, phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 1:42 PM, Nathan <nawrich at gmail.com> wrote:
>  > This thread should probably have a more appropriate title.
>  >
>  >  As others have eloquently said, Wikimedia is about free - as in freedom. The
>  >  choice of where to meet, as participants in Wikimedia projects, should
>  >  without doubt take this principle into account.
> It should probably be pointed out just one more time -- even if it is
>  exceedingly obvious -- that our Egyptian colleagues are participants
>  in our community as well. And to my knowledge, they have not yet been
>  able to attend a Wikimania, due to visa issues with the countries
>  involved where we have held the conference in the past. Believe me, it
>  wasn't through lack of trying, all three years.
>  Let's be clear: the jury certainly did not pick Alexandria simply
>  because we felt that we wanted to make the conference accessible to a
>  group of editors that had been excluded from attending in the past.
>  But it is worth remembering that previous locales have not always been
>  entirely friendly to all members of our global community -- explicitly
>  so, because of governmental policies on who can be allowed in the
>  country and under what conditions -- and that terms like "freedom" and
>  "accessibility" can mean very different things depending on one's
>  location in the world.
>  I can say that this conference choice was not made for political
>  reasons or as a political statement; that much should be clear. I also
>  sincerely hope that anyone who can't attend this year -- whether it's
>  because Egypt is too far, because they don't have enough money,
>  because they fear for their safety traveling, or any other reason --
>  will be able to join the conference in future years in other places,
>  because Wikimania is a truly amazing event.
>  I am personally very sorry that people are upset over the location
>  choice and feel personally discriminated against because of it. I do
>  wonder what constructive suggestions can be made for future conference
>  venues, considering a community that spans most cultures and countries
>  on earth, unfortunate governments that are prone to restricting
>  travel, and a generally unsafe (if usually interesting) world.

Various groups publish indicies of freedom (in terms of civil
liberties). Freedom House publish an index that categorises countries
as: Free (92 countries), Partly Free (65 countries), Not Free (52
countries). According to their 2007 survey, Egypt falls into the "Not
Free" category. The Worldwide Press Freedom Index published by
Reporters without Borders categorises Egypt as "difficult situation"
(out of the categories good situation, satisfactory situation,
noticable problems, difficult situation and very serious situation).
The Economist categorises Egypt on the Democracy Index as
"authoritarian" (the lowest of four categories).

I am surprised that in response to some Wikimedians' problems in
acquiring visas at past Wikimanias, Egypt, of all countries, was
chosen as a suitably "freer" venue.

According to the Henley Visa Restrictions Index, Egyptians are able to
obtain visas in 24 countries. Was Egypt the best choice of these 24?

Oldak Quill (oldakquill at gmail.com)

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