Speaking Freely: Mohamed El Gohary


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Interviewer: Jillian York

Mohamed El Gohary is an open-knowledge enthusiast. After majoring in Biomedical Engineering in October 2010, he switched careers to work as a Social Media manager for Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper until October 2011, when he joined Global Voices contracts managing Lingua until the end of 2021. He now works for IFEX as the MENA Network Engagement Specialist.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.*

York: What does free speech or free expression mean for you?

Free speech, for me, freedom of expression, means the ability for people to govern themselves. It means to me that the real meaning of democracy can not happen without freedom of speech, without people expressing their needs in different spectrums. The idea of civic space, the idea of people basically living their lives and using different means of communication for getting things done right through freedom of speech.

York: What’s an experience that shaped your views on freedom of expression?

Well, my background is using the internet. So I always believed, in the early days of using the internet, that it would enable people to express themselves in a way for a better democratic process. But right now that changed because of the decentralization of online spaces to centralized spaces which are the antithesis of democracy. So the internet turns into an oligarch’s world. Which is, again, going back to freedom of expression. I think there are ways that are unchartered territories in terms of activism, in terms of platforms online and offline, to maybe reinvent the wheel in a way for people to have a better democratic process in terms of freedom of expression. 

York: You came up in an era where social media had so much promise, and now, like you said about the oligarchical online space—which I tend to agr

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