Palestinian reality is debated across the globe. However, often by international academics, journalists and politicians. The Danish House in Palestine has invited a number of Palestinians representing different outlooks and areas of expertise to share their perspectives.
Saed Karzoun, born in 1985, is the founder and CEO of Taghyeer for social media, a non-profit social media organization, based in Ramallah, in the West Bank. He is a journalist, entrepreneur and motivational speaker and a fellow of ASHOKA – a community for change makers. Recently his novel “30 Secret Numbers” was published in Arabic, English and French.
Why did you believe a social media organization like Taghyeer was needed in Palestine?
“I started blogging and doing Youtube in 2005, where we were only a few bloggers in Palestine, so there was not really a blogging culture. I believed that Social Media would be the new world, and the new space for us as entrepreneurs, where we could speak and communicate with thousands of people.
From there, I believed that we needed to build Taghyeer, to create social media campaigns and social change, and to deal with economical and political problems.”
What is the idea behind Taghyeer?
“Taygheer is originally a verb we started using after the Arab Spring. It means “change” and reflects the new changes in the Arab societies. I created the concept of Taghyeer for social media from this. The vision is to spread positivity and invest in the minds of the youth. We wish to destroy stereotypes and create a new way of thinking and working with social media, radio and branding.
Taghyeer is about freedom of speech, entrepreneurship and journalism. In order to reach this and have more open-minded societies with activism, change and the fight for human rights, I had to create small stations, which are our projects.
We have “Youknow”, a mobile app and platform for media activism, where you can blog, write and create film about everyday life issues, related to the municipality, social accountability, freedom of speech, access to information, legal rights etc.
We also have “Mappingher”, which focuses on women’s rights and on empowering women by creating small businesses and learning how to use social media tools to market themselves. We also make animation films aimed at youth, about for example honor killings and violence. We create content and collect data, and everything is put together on one interactive website, called “mappingher.ps”. It is easily accessible for researchers, women’s rights organizations and activists.”
What are your future aims with Taghyeer?
“My short-term goal is to make Taghyeer well known, in order to create real impact on the Palestinian society. I wish to change the educational system, in order to invest in the minds of our children and ourselves.
For my long-term vision, I aim to work closely with people and create a system, which makes Palestinians more motivated and open-minded, in order to develop our skills and society. Of course I dream of having a Palestinian state. I think most Palestinians share the dream of having a state. And I dream of peace, I want our children and families to live and enjoy a peaceful life. This is my big dream, so every day I’m trying to spread positivity.”
How do you believe social media platforms can contribute to change?
“Let’s be honest. Social media platforms are tools, and tools do not make anything, unless people take action. This is very clear. Social media is social media. But social media is now a tool we can use to communicate to millions.
A few months ago I started an online campaign speaking of problems with the meters for street parking in Ramallah. It got almost a million views. This pushed the mayor to work on the problem and find a solution for it. So I believe that social media have an impact. But you still need to follow up and try to find realistic solutions. Social media is a brilliant tool if you know how to use it well.”
Have you experienced any challenges while working with Taghyeer?
“There are a lot of challenges. First of all, Palestinian youth do not really trust parties or organizations, so it is difficult to encourage them to speak about solutions or to motivate them to use our technology. The occupation is also a big challenge. It is difficult to speak about positivity if the same day, your friend get killed in one of the checkpoints.
Economics and unemployment is also a big challenge. If you say: “Be motivated, think out of the box” to people, they say: “Okay, feed me, then I can think out of the box.”
There are real challenges, but I believe that if we create realistic positivity in the Palestinian society, it gives us the ability to think about alternative solutions.
Our work is complicated, but we cannot just keep saying that its complicated, you have to do something.”
About Taghyeer for social media
Taghyeer for social media was founded in 2014, by Saed Karzoun. It’s a non-profit organisation, with four employees and 50 volunteers.
Taghyeer seeks to encourage free speech and youth and women empowerment, through innovative multimedia platforms and data collection.
Read more about Taghyeer for social media at www.taghyeer.ps