Category: Human Rights Foundation

Thor Halvorssen on the Lasting Implications of the Arab Spring

Thor Halvorssen is very proud that his Human Rights Foundation can put on the Oslo Freedom Forum each year. This meeting allows people from around the world to learn more about human rights. One of the highlights of the meeting is teaching activists to use social media to gain support. At the meeting in 2012, supporters gathered in an uprising that became called the Arab Spring.

Many outsiders would say that not much has happened since the Arab Spring occurred, but many within the movement say that is not true at all. They admit, however, that the only government to make noticeable improvements is Tunisia. Those at the Oslo meeting and their supporters say that much has changed because young people are now using the internet to understand that there is a better way.

One person who regularly blogs about this is iIyad el-Baghdadi. His Twitter account received more than 100 million views last year. A resident of the United Arab Emirates until he was expelled in 2014, he is using his Twitter account to encourage people to set up local governments. He strongly believes that it is the Muslim way. In addition to his active Twitter account, he is appearing on stages around the world to support human rights.

Another person who has learned to use social media to get his message out following the Arab Spring is journalist Abdalaziz Alhamza. After managing to flee Raqqa, Syria, in 2014, he created the group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. This group smuggles pictures out of Syria showing real conditions within the country. Many citizens within the country are sharing photos. For his efforts, Abdalaziz won the 2015 International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Raif Badawi of Saudi Arabia has set up the website Free Saudi Liberals. Raif has been imprisoned because of his attempts to get the message out. On at least one occasion, he received 1,000 lashes for spreading his message while in prison. The first 50 lashes were given in public as a threat to others who might try similar techniques.

Thor is very proud of the work that his foundation has been able to accomplish. He says that the work is far from over. If you would like to learn more, then check out