FYI, doing most of my blogging these days here:

Tomorrow could get rough in Egypt, there's a good chance the mobile networks will be cut and a possibility that the internet may cut out. I'm going to be posting regularly on Twitter and Facebook, here's my feed from Twitter:

I'm also working on a Twitter translation effort, which you can watch here:

I'm hoping to be available by email tom.trewinnard[at] - but if I don't respond it's almost certainly because I'm incredibly busy.

To follow what's going on real time, the twitter feed is here:

I desperately wish I had time to write about this - maybe next May I'll catch a break. A stunning talk from TED Global last week about social interaction online, and the role of translation and curation in giving us a broader picture of things. Watch it. Just watch it.

Just for those of you who wonder what it is I do in my spare time, here's a nicely written explanation of Meedan by my colleague Mohammad Kayali for the Meedan Blog, translated by yours truly (see, I can still do Arabic!)

Is Meedan a news site? Tech related? Or a social network?

Meedan LogoMany people have questions about what Meedan really is, both as a website and as an organization. Visitors are often surprised when they find the link “”, wondering where and what is the original
This is a logical question, so let’s first clarify that “” is one of several Meedan projects, aiming to enrich dialogue and discussion between English and Arabic speakers based on news events that are important to both groups.
In short, this is Meedan. It’s a common mistake to think of Meedan as a news site: It may appear this way, but Meedan’s role is not to report or publish news. Instead we collect what is being discussed in English and Arabic on the web based on specific events, and present it in an easy-to-read format for readers of both languages. We translate every source in clear and simple language to make them available in both English and Arabic. This is the real mission of Meedan.
Breaking this language barrier is what benefits both people following the news and people who love to know what other people are thinking about events.
From a journalistic point of view, Meedan offers to curate what is being discussed in the press on both sides, taking key points from an article, and then to translate it and make it available to speakers of the other language. However, as an organization experienced in new media, our sources aren’t limited to the Arabic and English press. Our sources also come from the web; blog posts, Twitter posts, Facebook messages and forum discussions in both languages. Everything web users might produce as material related to an event will be used as a source for Meedan. This is where the strength of Meedan as a source lies, for anyone searching the web or anyone wanting to follow current affairs without fear of one opinion or point of view dominating the coverage.
Media link on an event
But the work doesn’t stop with Meedan’s producers and translators. This is where the technology behind Meedan steps in, to give all its users the opportunity to add their own links related to the event for Machine Translation, which uses advanced technology which also allows continuous user modification and development which then feeds back into Meedan’s translation memory. Of course, your own personal comments are also distinct from the sources and links, and have their own place on Meedan events.
And it’s not only comments that can be translated on Meedan; we also have the IBM TransBrowser which translates the complete original source page from comments and links added to Meedan in a way which maintains the original appearance of the page.
IBM Transbrowser
Creating an account on Meedan allows you to access your personal page, which displays your translations, your activity on the site and your stats. In addition there is, of course, the opportunity to communicate with other users of Meedan, participate in events and your own personal blog badge. So it seems we have a mini social network too!
Meedan brings together all these ideas to provide a unique web service that allows participation in events, translation and communication, all with one goal: dialogue which breaks down the language barrier. Of course, Meedan has its own views about good dialogue: we always try to maintain the best kind of dialogue we can.
It’s true that we support and encourage freedom of expression and debate on Meedan, but – since language is at the centre of the Meedan project – we will always try to use a language of dialogue which is respectful and acceptable to everyone involved, whatever we may believe to be the truth. Calm and clear dialogue is what will lead us to becoming a better global community.

I'm afraid this post contains expletives. Not about the football, mind. The football scarcely merits comment, except to say I've never seen an English defence made to look so porous.

English football fans are notorious around the world for their despicable conduct. For some reason it brings the worst out of us, as a nation. I'm lucky enough only to have witnessed such behaviour on a handful of occasions. Sadly, today that list grew.

I don't meet many fellow Englishmen here in Cairo - it's mainly Americans and continental sorts I run into around and about. I was pleased, then, to see a compatriot greet me as I sat down to watch the match in a trendy and peaceful garden cafe in the leafy suburb of Maadi.

As Rooney and Defoe kicked off, a gentleman with a shock of hair which hardly looked his own asked if he could make use of one of the empty chairs at our table. I obliged - the more the merrier.

When an offside Miroslav Klose breezed past the hapless Matthew Upson to fire home Germany's first, the strange-haired man raised his fists and cheered. A German equivalent of "get in!" The Englishman and I exchanged glances, shellshocked and in awe of Upson's pathetic effort at "defending".

Minutes later, Podolski slotted home the second, and the German cheered again. His ecstasy must have been directly disproportional to my dismay. This was too much for my countryman. Concepts of stiff upper-lipped sportsmanship went out the window as the Englishman, maybe a little younger than myself, began a foul-mouthed tirade. "Stop screaming in my fucking ear! Just shut the fuck up." Turning, he moved to within a few inches of the German's face and let out an ugly shout, demonstrating his grievance. "How do you like it? I'll give you something to fucking scream about."

The stunned German tried to reason with him - it's only a game, just because you're losing... Upson made amends for his earlier mistake to make it 2-1, and once again the offensive youth turned, screaming in the German's face, nose to nose. The German sat peacefully, barely remonstrating, which seemed only to inflame the Englishman. As waiters and customers tried to calm the situation and prevent the young man from becoming more physically aggressive, I wanted to curl into a ball and hope no one would remember that I too was English. It was all I could do to meekly ask the waiters to turn the character out on his heels, and pray for any Germans celebrating their team in England. The waiters offered to reseat the Germany supporter. He politely declined.

As the screen showed replay after replay of the goal that never was, the German went out of his way to placate the young Englishman - it was a goal, it's clear, I'm sorry. The graceful self-deprecation continued throughout the match, and as the third and fourth went in, it was a more muted celebration shown. Fists in the air, but tight-lipped.

As the German left the match, I tried to apologise for my countryman's behaviour, but he didn't seem to listen, only extending his condolences about the margin of the result.

What it is about football, about England-Germany matches in particular, that leads us to such indignity is not entirely clear to me. There is simply no reasonable justification or explanation. I'm not sure I've ever felt quite so ashamed, embarrassed in front of my foreign colleagues and the gentle Egyptian waiters.

If, by chance, the Englishman I ran into today is reading this: You should be deeply, profoundly ashamed of yourself. I sincerely hope our paths never again cross, either in this crazy city or another. You have single handedly lost me my appetite for football at the time when it should be most celebrated.

Leaving the match, I felt sick to the stomach. And not at the result.

Here's my latest piece for Meedan on HuffPo, I'm pasting it here in its entirety as I think it's a pretty important event - check out the photo linked below (not the one in the actual post) and on my Facebook.

It's good to finally see ElBaradei getting his hands dirty as it were and actually standing alongside Egyptians in protest: judging from the shrill tone of the Gomhoreyya piece below I think the turnout stung the government. How they can claim only 400 people turned out, even in light of photos showing many, many more EVERYWHERE online is an absolute mystery. One of the pieces I linked to is particularly interesting, from the state mouthpiece Al-Ahram. Here the writer seems to be criticizing the police for not coming up with a credible explanation for how Said died, but also notes how the family's narrative spread like wildfire over the internet and quickly became the accepted version of events. It seems the writer at Gomhoreyya wasn't paying attention and decided to opt, once again, for the incredible lies rather than the painful (for them) truth.


The death of a young businessman in Alexandria, Egypt, reportedly at the hands of two police officers, has led thousands to the streets in protest against police brutality, writes Tom Trewinnard.

People respecting a moment's silence in memory of Khaled Said in Abdeen, Cairo (from Ramy Raoof)

Since news of Khaled Said's death broke several weeks ago, gruesome pictures of his mutilated skull have appeared on many blogs and Facebook pages juxtaposed with images of Said looking youthful and fresh-faced - stark visual evidence lending credence to Said's family's allegations that their son was beaten to death by two local police officers.

Mamoun al-Bassiouni, in an unusually critical article for pro-governmental daily Rose Al-Youssef, writes:

There is no justification for the alleged actions of the two police officers, who reportedly forced the victim's head against a marble counter in the cafe where they arrested him. This led to serious injury and intensive head bleeding. They then dragged him into the entrance of a nearby building and viciously attacked him, banging his head against a metal door and breaking his teeth, until he lost any ability to scream for help.

لا يوجد ما يقنع أو يبرّر ما تردد أن يقوم اثنان من المخبرين بدفع رأس متّهم في شريحة رخامية داخل المحل الذي ذهب اثنان من المخبرين، للقبض عليه فيه ! وهو ما أدي إلي إصابته وتلطيخ وجهه بالدماء، ثمّ يقومان بسحله إلي داخل مدخل إحدي العمارات المجاورة ويضربانه بقسوة ويخبطان رأسه في الباب الحديد حتّي كسرت أسنانه وصمت نهائيّا وفقد حقّه في قدرته علي الصراخ .

The official version of events as reported in the state media, however, insists that Said died as a result of "asphyxiation". An official autopsy earlier this week also found this to be the case, although the aforementioned image, along with eyewitness reports, seem to discredit this version of events. Writing in the largest of the state-run papers, Al-Ahram, Hazem Abdel Rahman comments on the speed with which the family's story was spread and accepted, and laments the official police response:

Unfortunately, reports issued by the police on the incident failed to present a logical explanation for the incident and the resulting death of Khaled Said. The police was more focused on portraying Khaled as a dangerous convict, drug addict, or someone who's evading military service. All this fails to answer the question: If we suppose this is all true, do these reasons justify taking his life away?

 للأسف‏..‏ فإن البيانات الصادرة عن الشرطة حول الحادث‏,‏ عجزت وفشلت في تقديم تفسير منطقي للحادث وما أسفر عنه من وفاة خالد‏..‏ فقد انصب اهتمام الشرطة علي تصوير خالد في صورة مسجل خطر أو بلطجي أو حشـاش أو هارب من التجنيد‏...‏الخ‏.‏ وكل هذا لا يجيب عن سؤال‏:‏ إذا افترضنا أن كل هذا صحيح‏..‏ فهل يجوز تصفيته؟‏!‏

With many critics deriding the official investigation carried out thus far as a whitewash, Mohammed Esmat in independent daily Al-Shorouk called for a more honest and open inquest into the death, and warned of the potential consequences if this does not happen:

The ball is now in Minister [of the Interior] Habib al-Adly's court, who should order an honest and just investigation in Khaled Said's incident. Strict penalties should be applied on the police officers who murdered him. This is the only way to mark a new beginning in the relationship between the police force and this country's youth, who will continue to demonstrate and attend drug rallies. This will continue to happen as long as our government insists on its current policies, without giving Egypt's youth any hope for changing their miserable reality.

الكرة الآن فى ملعب اللواء حبيب العادلى الذى ينبغى ان يفتح تحقيقا أمينا ونزيها فى واقعة وفاة خالد سعيد، وتوقيع عقوبات رادعة ضد المخبرين اللذين تسببا فى وفاته، إذا ثبت ذلك، من أجل فتح صفحة جديدة فى علاقة الشرطة بشباب هذا الوطن الذين سيواصلون بالقطع مسيرة المظاهرات ومسيرة البانجو.. طالما استمرت حكوماتنا فى سياساتها الراهنة، دون ان تعطيهم أملا فى تغيير واقعهم البائس!

As the protests got underway in Said's home city of Alexandria, attendees posted pictures, videos and text updates on Twitter - many choosing to focus on the significant, if brief, attendance of Mohammed ElBaradei, who has taken a leading role in campaigning for reform in Egypt since returning to the country earlier this year. Karima Kamal, writing in Al-Masry Al-Youm before the demonstration, noted the potential significance of the protests:

This may be the first time in many years that Egyptians take to the streets in protest to internal affairs, apart from rallies conducted by Copts in protest to alleged discrimination endured by their families. This time, people have gathered as Egyptians to protest their country's affairs, away from any form of sectarianism.

ربما تكون هذه هى المرة الأولى منذ سنوات عديدة التى يخرج فيها المصريون فى الخارج احتجاجا على ما يجرى فى الداخل بعيدا عن احتجاج الأقباط على ما يعانيه أهلهم فى الداخل مما يعتبرونه تمييزا ضدهم. هذه المرة يخرج المصريون جميعا بصفتهم مصريين ليعترضوا على ما يجرى فى بلدهم بعيدا عن الطائفية وتصنيفاتها

The strongly pro-governmental Al-Gomhoreyya went on the attack against ElBaradei, belittling the protests as part of a political exercise on his part and claiming the number of protesters was insignificant (in spite of photos published online which suggest otherwise):

The people of Alexandria today taught ElBaradei and his supporters from the National Association for Change a hard lesson, with their absence from the political dramatics which he had prepared with his companions to take place at Sidi Gaber mosque, where he was claiming that millions would be waiting for him: The number of people present didn't exceed 400.

أعطي السكندريون درسا قاسيا للبرادعي وأنصاره من جمعية التغيير بغيابهم عن المسرحية السياسية التي أعدها مع رفاقه بمسجد سيدي جابر حيث كان يروج أن الملايين سوف يكونون في انتظاره ولم يزد عدد من انتظره علي 400 شخص.

Opposition leaders, however, will be unlikely to see the demonstrations as the "hard lesson" Al-Gomhoreyya describes. They were quick to emphasize that the protest wasn't about politics, but about "expressing indignation at this kind of torture". Ayman Nour, another senior opposition figure and former presidential candidate, summarised the impact of people taking to the street in protest, speaking to Al-Masry Al-Youm:

The protest witnessed the unification of different political movements against the emergency law, and portrayed the political scene in Egypt, depicting two different camps; the first, a regime which believes in isolated government; and the second, believing as a national power that believes in solidarity with civilians in confronting tyranny.

إن هذه الوقفة جاءت فرصة تتوحد فيها القوى السياسية ضد حالة الطوارئ وتعبيراً عن الحالة السياسية فى مصر والتي أظهرت كتلتين، الأولى لنظام يحكم بشكل منعزل وقوى وطنية تتضامن مع المواطنين فى مواجهة الاستبداد 

Thanks to Ghaydaa, Yaser, Aya and Shaimaa for translations.  You can add your view in two languages on

I am still here, in case anyone was worrying. Work is going well, and as ever there's plenty to do - updates for the by now mercilessly neglected Tom in Egypt have thus fallen off the wagon.

A few things to check out:

The Arab-West Report website is slowly but surely making progress - check out the couple of YouTube videos we have posted along with TopNews items, courtesy of new intern Bill Gallo.

For Meedan, I've used translated content from our site to write up a couple of media round ups for the Economist: An "idiotic jihad" (on the attempted Times Square bomb) and Reactions to the raid (on the flotilla killings)

"Reactions to the raid" on the Economist homepage

Hopefully these will be a regular feature over at the Economist; they're great fun to write and the translators at Meedan have put in a sterling effort to help me produce them.

Currently missing UK coverage of the World Cup, and UK media savagery of horrendous goalkeeping errors. Bring back David Seaman!


Copyright 2006| Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.