Spotlight – Sarah Abdurrahman

Sarah Abdurrahman, a producer for WNYC’s On the Media, discusses her work as a Libyan American, trying to get information out of her homeland and connect the Arab diaspora in the wake of the pro-Democracy protests. She’s been contributing to the @Feb17voices Twitter feed. As explained on the OTM site, “Sarah is not an OTM producer but rather an OTM source. Journalists are, of course, trained never to become part of the story, so we asked Sarah about her dual role as Libyan activist and journalist.”

Sarah “is one of those determined, inspired, and modest voices that pulled me into her world recently…she has been heavily involved as a Libyan-American activist with the Feb 17th voices movement…This group of people, including Sarah, are doing what they can to get real information about what is going on around Libya during this critical time.  Its obviously no easy task and there is great risk for those on the ground, not to mention the fear of not succeeding that many have struggled with even before this amazing uprising.” … see the full article of “Voices of Resistance in Libya” (March 3, 2011) here

Sarah is compelling and passionate because the “story” is so personal. In as much as she is a voice that tells us what is happening in Libya, she is an agent of change and a conduit. If you don’t know of Sarah, we urge you to listen to her on the OTM site. We have pulled an except, but the entire podcast is compelling. You can listen to it or read the transcript of Bob Garfield’s conversation here.

“Libya is one of the most closed-off societies and, and one of the most difficult places to get information in and out of. And if I have people that I can get in touch with there and get information out to put a spotlight on it then, I mean, it – it’s a duty. There’s no question. I’ve purely been trying to get the information out. And if the people that are around me want to make comments about it, editorialize, retweet, do what they want with it, that’s fine. But I still do recognize my role as a journalist and that I can’t get too involved in that regard….

We had expectations that something big was about to happen in Libya, with the uprising in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt and then things starting to develop in Bahrain and in Yemen and even Algeria. We knew that something was likely to happen, and, and February 17th was designated the Day of Rage.

And so, we sort of wanted to be prepared that if something did happen that we could make sure to get information out. We knew without a doubt there was going to be an information lockdown, so we wanted to be prepared.

If you could imagine our house that we were in in the D.C. area, I think at one point there were 37 people there, all furiously working on laptops, all trying to make phone calls.

You know, we had people calling the media. We had people putting media in touch with people on the ground. We had people writing letters to the government here, trying to get attention to be paid there. And we didn’t sleep. We were just like we’d wake up, rub our eyes and get back to turning our computers on and, and calling people.”

As she reflects on her role and that of her family’s and friends’ work in the last 40 years as they fight for freedom (and in particular her father), she crystallizes her role as dual role as journalist and activist. “It’s the least that we can do is to help the people that are dying now and get their stories out.”


Follow Sarah’s Contributions and the Feb17voices @Feb17voices


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