" is the leading organization in the world principally devoted to online democratic dissidents."
- Kristen Silverberg, former US ambassador to the European Union

Our Experts

David Keyes, Director
David Keyes

David Keyes is the executive director of Advancing Human Rights and co-founder of He served as coordinator for democracy programs under famed Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky and assisted a former UN ambassador. Keyes was called a "pioneer in online activism" by The New York Times and is a contributor to Newsweek/The Daily Beast. He has written for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, Reuters, The Huffington Post and many other leading publications. He has appeared on MSNBC, PBS and Bloomberg TV.  Keyes spoke on human rights in the US Congress, Italian Parliament, and Google and held meetings with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President George W. Bush. Keyes created the First Annual Saudi Women's Grand Prix. He graduated with honors from UCLA in Middle Eastern Studies and completed a Masters in Diplomacy at Tel Aviv University.  He speaks Arabic and Hebrew.

Nir Boms, Senior Contributor
Nir Boms

Nir Boms is a co-founder of Previously he was the founder the Center for Freedom in the Middle East and the Vice President of the Washington based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Mr. Boms lectures extensively on human rights in the Middle East and has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times,  The Asia Times, The National Interest,  and many other publications. He also participated in the writing of “Copts in Egypt, A Christian Minority Under Siege” (G2W-Verlag, 2006) and “The Long March to the West” (Valentine Mitchell, 2007).

His Ph.D. dissertation focuses on the  Influence of Information Technology on the Creation of Civic Society in Syria and Iran.

Ahed Al Hendi, Contributor
Ahed Al Hendi

Ahed Alhendi is the founder of Syrian Youth for Justice. As a student in Syria, he was imprisoned and tortured for political activism. He fled his homeland shortly thereafter and has lived in the United States ever since. He continues to struggle for human rights in Syria and is a vociferous critic of the al-Assad dictatorship.

Al Hendi's work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Reuters, The Daily Beast, The Wall Street Journal, and The Huffington Post. He has also been interviewed by CNN, NPR, Russia Today Arabic, Al Hurra, France 24 Arabic, Al Jazeera English, and Bloomberg.

Solmaz Sharif, Iran Program Manager/Social Media Online Community Manager
Solmaz Sharif

Solmaz Sharif is an Iranian journalist and broadcaster with more than 12 years of experience. She has worked in various reformist newspapers in Iran as society and women sports reporter. Sharif founded the first Iranian women sports magazine called, Shirzanan, and was a broadcaster in BBC Persian. She moved to America in 2007 and now lives in New York. She is interested in digital journalism and reporting in Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan. She's fluent in Persian, English, and Turkish.

Our Advisors

Ahmad Batebi, Chairman

Ahmad Batebi

Ahmad Batebi was imprisoned in Iran for eight years for student activities. His picture holding up a bloodied shirt of a friend who was beaten during a protest appeared on the cover of The Economist and instantly became a symbol for dissent throughout the world. In 2008 he escaped from prison and made his way to America where he continues his struggle for human rights and democracy.

Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim

Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim

Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim is Egypt's most famous democratic dissident. He was imprisoned in Egypt on account of his work to promote civil society and democracy. Dr. Ibrahim is the founder of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies and the Arab Organization for Human Rights. He is a board member of the Arab Democracy Foundation and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. In 2006, Dr. Ibrahim was awarded the Ion Ratiu Democracy Lecture Prize at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has taught sociology at Drew University, Indiana University and the American University of Cairo.

Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler was Canada's Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada from 2003 until 2006. Cotler has served on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and its sub-Committee on Human Rights and International Development, as well as on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. In 2000, he was appointed special advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the International Criminal Court. Cotler served as counsel to former prisoners of conscience including Nelson Mandela, Natan Sharansky, and many other political prisoners and dissidents.

Natan Sharansky, (On Leave)

Natan Sharansky

Natan Sharansky is a world renowned dissident, author, and politician. Under his mentor Andrei Sakharov, Sharansky became a leading member of the campaign for human rights in the Soviet Union. In March 1977, he was arrested on false charges and sentenced to thirteen years of forced labor of which he served nine in a Siberian Gulag. Sharansky has penned several influential books, including the 2004 best-seller The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. His other books include Fear no Evil and his latest Defending Identity.

Peter Deutsch

Peter Deutsch

Peter Deutsch is a former Democratic U.S. Congressman who served Florida's 20th district from 1993 through 2005. He studied at Swarthmore College and continued on to Yale Law School graduating in 1982. That year Deutsch was elected to the Florida House of Representatives where he eventually served on the Veterans Affairs Committee, Health Care Committee and Criminal Jusice Committee. Deutsch was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1992 and was reelected in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002. He held several powerful positions including the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investiation of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Throughout his years in Congress, Deutsch worked hard to promote human rights, Middle East peace and U.S. trade policy.

Dorian Barak

Dorian Barak

Dorian Barak was a war crimes prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague (ICTY), where he served as a member of the teams prosecuting Slobodan Milosevic and others accused of crimes against humanity. A graduate of UCLA (BA, Political Science), Oxford University (MA, Law) and Yale Law School (Juris Doctor), he currently runs a UK-based asset manager, and is involved in several non-profit organizations.

Nazanin Afshin-Jam

Nazanin Afshin-Jam

Nazanin Afshin-Jam is President and Co-Founder of “Stop Child Executions” whose goal is a permanent end to executions of minors in Iran and abroad, and was appointed by Canada’s Prime Minister to the Board of Directors of Canadian Race Relations Foundation in 2008. Afshin-Jam has since organized “Ahmadinejad’s Walk of Shame” outside the UN, spoken at the Canadian and British Parliaments, and received numerous human rights recognitions and awards.

Abdul Wahid al-Nur

Abdul Wahid al-Nur

Abdul Wahid al-Nur is the founder of the Sudan Liberation Movement. He was born in Dafur in 1968 and has become a leading voice for equality and secular democracy in Sudan. He currently directs the SLM from Paris and travels widely to promote democratic values. According to the BBC, al-Nur is considered the "founder" of the rebellion against the Khartoum government and is crucial to any peace agreement.

Jim Prince

Jim Prince

Jim Prince is the founder and President of the Democracy Council where he serves as Project Director for the Council's transparency projects in the Middle East. He served as a senior professional staff member for the House Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, a member of the Middle East Studies department at the Council on Foreign Relations and a foreign policy adviser to the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign. He has also led congressional-staff fact-finding missions to India and Pakistan and has participated in election monitoring in Northern Iraq.

Samer Abu Libdeh

Samer Abu Libdeh

Samer Abu Libdeh is the Director of the Interaction Forum, an Amman-based civil society and democracy-promotion organization. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Liberty in the Middle East (CLIME) and served as foreign desk editor and senior reporter for the Al-Aswaq Business Daily. A former Congressional Fellow and a Fulbright scholar, Abu Libdeh also served as a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Dr. Nima Mina

Dr. Nima Mina

Dr. Nima Mina is a Lecturer in Persian at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. He focuses on modern Persian literature, diaspora studies and writes on the phenomenon of blogs and cyber-literature in Iran.

Kareem Amer, Blogger Board Member

Kareem Amer

On November 15, 2010, Amer was released from Egyptian prison after serving a four year sentence for criticizing Egypt’s dictator and “insulting” Islam. He was kept in prison an additional ten days even after his sentence was completed. Amer first began expressing his secular, pro-democracy views on his blog as a student at Al Azhar University in Cairo. Upon discovering his writings, the school expelled him in 2006. His case was referred to state prosecutors and, in February 2007, Kareem was convicted on the aforementioned charges. He was sent to Borg El-Arab prison and continued to write fiery letters in jail against dictatorship. A large global campaign was waged by groups throughout the world on Kareem’s behalf. His term in prison was the longest any individual has faced for expressing opinions on a blog.

Soufiene Chourabi, Blogger Board Member

Soufiene Chourabi

Known throughout Tunisia as a staunch defender of freedom of speech and democracy, blogger Soufiene Chourabi highlighted human rights abuses committed by former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime. Chourabi is also a journalist who works for theAttariq Al Jadid and Al Akhbar newspapers in Lebanon. Many international media outlets rely on Chourabi’s videos, photos and articles, especially during the recent unrest, and he is frequently quoted by Arabic news organizations on the subject of anti-government protests in Tunisia. Chourabi is a member of the Tunisian Syndicate of Journalists.

Kacem Al Ghazzali, Blogger Board Member

Kacem Al Ghazzali

Even at the young age of 20, Moroccan blogger Kacem Al Ghazzali holds leading positions in several human rights organization in his country. He is the head of the Youth Chapter at the Moroccan Center for Human Rights and is a member of the Executive Board of the Moroccan Blogger Association. Al Ghazzali is the author of, one of the most controversial blogs in the Arab world, and has received a number of death threats. He is a passionate supporter of separation of religion and state and recently started an English blog,, to reach non-Arabic speakers interested in atheism and minorities in the Arab world. 

Rami Nakhle, Blogger Board Member

Rami Nakhle

Rami is a Syrian writer and journalist. His interest in cyberdissent began with a personal experience with a victim of “honor killing.” He came to the conclusion that these killings were symptomatic of the broader problem of authoritarianism in his country and throughout the Middle East. Rami has been involved with initiatives aimed at law reform to protect women and minorities, and he spent a year on the Syrian Women Observatory team which highlights human rights violations against Syrian women. He has participated in international training courses and conferences in Germany, Jordan and the United States. Nakhla is the founder of Syrian Press, a daily electronic news service, and he established a group called “Get Your Rights” to help Syrian citizens circumvent Internet censorship. 

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CyberDissident Database

CyberDissident Database Saudi Arabia Yemen Iran Egipt Syria Jordan Lybia Tunisia Morocco Kuwait

A directory of biographies of the Middle East's leading democratic online dissidents is provided.

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