Khalid Albaih is a political cartoonist and social media activist.
Using the Internet as a way of publishing uncensored drawings since 2006, Khalid has been one of the leading visual artists of the Arab Spring and has witnessed first hand how social media evolved - from a tool to fight the establishment to eventually becoming the establishment itself.
In our conversation* we talk about how social media changed since Khalid got started, how politics got involved and the chances for the Internet to remain a space to raise our voices.
09:30 "I started posting my work online. […] And then the Arab Spring happened. My page went from having 200 people to having 83.000 people and my work really went out there in a very short time.”
15:16 “There was a lack of our voice. So when I started doing cartoons I did one image, without a comment. Because language was the first obstacle to get to the West. And sadly that’s what we have to do because we’re ruled by the West. So for me to try to get there I needed to talk their language."
20:40 "Social media gave us a space in the beginning. But then the same people we were fighting realized that and made everything in their power to control that space. […] The battle we fought before we’re now going to fight again."
22:45 "There’s still a few people back home that are trying to fight on the ground or on social media. But most people on social media, because of how controlled it is, they don’t use it the same way they used it before. They either quit or they talk about something else, non political."
32:30 "There’s an overload of information but there’s no knowledge of what to do with it. Except for the people that are harvesting our data. They are the only ones making sense and making money out of this. But for people like me there is no choice. Because it’s not something that I use for leisure. It’s something I have to do. I have no other way."
* The conversation took place live in front of an audience in November 2018 in Copenhagen. The podcast version has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
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