CAIRO: Blogger and anti-torture activist Wael Abbas has been voted Middle East Person of the Year by readers of CNN’s Inside the Middle East blog.
Abbas is the moderator of the popular blog Misr Digital and a key player in Egypt’s anti-torture movement.
Through video clips and photos on his site, Abbas has publicized numerous cases of alleged torture, police abuse, and sexual harassment occurring in Egyptian police stations and on the streets of Cairo over the past few years.
He was among the first to upload the infamous video clips depicting two policemen torturing and sodomizing microbus driver Emad Al-Kabir with a stick at a Cairo police station in 2006. The case sparked an outcry among civil society and the two officers were sentenced to prison terms in a landmark case in November 2007.
“Wael wants to inspire the Egyptian people to demand change .and intends to keep up the fight online and keep his check on the Egyptian government, stated CNN in the nomination.
One of the voters described Abbas as someone who has “turned blogging into a very powerful tool to fight tyranny and state torture. It is such characters that give us hope of a better future and dignity for human beings. Abbas’ online activism has attracted considerable attention from both national and international media. Last year, he became the first Internet blogger to win the renowned Knight Journalism Award for his work.
“I am happy, of course. It makes you feel good. I had great competition and I did not expect to win. I didn’t think I was that important after all, Abbas told Daily News Egypt.