Akhbar Braille: Egypt’s first magazine for the blind

The magazine offers the visually challenged an opportunity to work in journalism.
Updated 25 August 2017
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Akhbar Braille: Egypt’s first magazine for the blind

CAIRO: In a long-awaited achievement, Egypt now has its first magazine in Arabic Braille, offering visually challenged people an opportunity to work in journalism. 
Akhbar Braille is published by Akhbar El-Youm, a semi-official daily newspaper in Arabic, and has columns on culture, art, sports, technology and politics. The Braille reading and writing system represents letters by raised dots.
The editor in chief of Akhbar Braille, Ahmad Al-Maraghy, told Arab News that the path to starting the magazine “wasn’t lined with flowers,” as it had to overcome many challenges to prove the idea was worth it. 
“Officials in charge of granting us a press license were surprised when they first received our first draft of the magazine, because it was an all-white paper print,” he said. 
The magazine’s team is made up of 20 editors who are all visually challenged. Nearly no reading material is available to the visually impaired in Egypt — some 3 million out of a population of 92 million. 
While the idea first occurred to Al-Maraghy in 2007 by meeting a visually impaired person by coincidence, he said he had several trials in Braille publications before this edition. 
“From a humanitarian perspective, I believe that being unable to see is the most difficult thing in the world,” he said.
Getting ads for the magazine was a challenge, he added, because people had never advertised in Braille before.
But it managed to attract some advertisers and receive sponsorship from a private bank. “I didn’t want the magazine to be seen as a charity or treat it that way,” he said.
“I’ve approached institutions who are aware of their social responsibility and are willing to develop their communities,” Al-Maraghy added.
“Our magazine is the first publication in Egypt and the Arab world to be published completely in Braille style.”
The 68-page publication currently prints 1,000-2,000 copies per month. Its free copies are distributed at public libraries, universities, schools or centers frequented by the visually impaired, in Cairo and other cities. 
Al-Maraghy wants to increase circulation throughout Egypt and start a daily publication. “It’s not a magazine about the blind, it’s for the blind, to serve their needs and interests,” he said.
“We hope our publication reaches audiences in the Gulf and the rest of the world.”


Six charged over 2015 murder of Bangladesh blogger

Updated 18 February 2019
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Six charged over 2015 murder of Bangladesh blogger

  • Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born US national, was hacked to death outside Dhaka University
  • He was known in Bangladesh for his Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog

DHAKA: Six people have been charged with the gruesome murder four years ago of a controversial atheist blogger, Bangladesh police said Monday.
Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born US national, was hacked to death on a busy road outside Dhaka University in February 2015. His wife was critically injured in the attack.
Police investigators said 11 of the 12 militants from the outlawed Ansar Al-Islam group implicated in the murder took part in the street killing.
“Six people have been charged over the murder of Avijit Roy. Of the six, two are on the run,” Dhaka police spokesman Masudur Rahman said.
A sacked army major who masterminded the attack was one of those still on the loose, Rahman said, adding police could not identify the other five involved.
One suspect was killed by police in a crackdown that followed the murder.
Roy, who migrated to the United States two decades ago, was known in Bangladesh for his Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog, where he railed against all forms of organized religion.
One of his books, “The Virus of Faith,” became a controversial bestseller in Bangladesh, which is officially secular even though 90 percent of the population is Muslim.
Ansar Al-Islam has been accused of the 2013-14 murders of atheist and secular bloggers and gay activists that prompted many to flee the country.
The government launched a crackdown on Ansar and other radical groups after an attack on a Dhaka cafe in July 2016 left 18 foreigners dead.
Nearly 100 extremists have since been killed by police while hundreds have been arrested.