It's become a tradition here to run a year-end wrap-up on the highs and lows of the past 12 months. Suddenly it's once again December 31. Can this blog really be three years old? Can so little progress have been made during those three years? Does anyone care anymore?
But enough with the navel-gazing questions... on to the awards!
BIGGEST OUTRAGE: Sudan Genocide
Once again, there is no competition. Pathetic that the biggest news out of the country this year was not genocide, but a teddy bear.
FORGOTTEN OUTRAGE: Sudan Genocide
See above. Last year's winner, the subjugation of Western Sahara, runs a close second. Most Americans have at least heard of Sudan.
MOST MUNDANE OUTRAGE: Banning Women from Iranian Soccer Games
The view is not so good from behind the fence.
DICTATOR OF THE YEAR: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
The guy is sitting atop a powder keg, and the best reform he can demonstrate is pardoning a gang-rape victim. Lordy!
TURNING POINT: Kareem Amer's One-Year Anniversary in Jail
This is supposed to be a hopeful category. But when a country can throw a random kid in jail for years simply for speaking his mind on a website - and do it despite massive international outrage - then bloggers across the region have got to be scared.
MOST DARING MOMENT: Mansoor Osanloo Returning to Tehran
You're the head of the illegal Tehran Bus Drivers Union and you've already been sent to the slammer a few times already. You are invited on a speaking tour of Europe where you blast the Iranian regime for repressing free labor movements. Would you even consider going home after your speaking tour? The man had an iron-clad asylum case, but he willfully returned to the lion's den. Will this modern-day Daniel survive the ordeal?
MOST INFLUENTIAL AMERICAN ACTIVIST: None
Sad to say, but no one did much of anything noteworthy. A wasted year?
OUTSTANDING REPORTING ON CIVIL RIGHTS: Ahmed Benchemsi
Tel Quel magazine keeps taking on unthinkable taboos and busting them wide open. It's a model for the rest of the region. Can't wait until they launch a Saudi edition.
BEST LOCAL BLOGGING: Big Pharaoh
Okay, so he was AWOL most of the year. But he provided this photo, which makes up for all the radio silence.
MOMENT OF LEVITY: Iran Hearts Jews
The Iranian state media apparently uses Google to search for photos to go with news stories. The results are riotous.
2008 Risky Prediction: A "Jasmine Revolution" in Syria
We were WAY off the last two years, but maybe predicting it a third time will actually make it come true.
PHOTOS OF THE YEAR: Take the Blue Pill, Dammit! Happy new year!
Happy new year!