[LINK] Egypt and Facebook
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Mon Jan 26 01:44:55 AEDT 2009
Good if the Brotherhood and Obama became Facebook pals ..
By SAMANTHA M. SHAPIRO www.nytimes.com Published: January 22, 2009
Only a few hours after Israels first air strike against Hamas positions
in the Gaza Strip late last month, more than 2,000 protesters marched
through the streets of downtown Cairo, carrying Palestinian flags. This
began what would become weeks of protests ..
As the street protests went on, young Egyptians also were mobilizing and
venting their anger over Gaza on what would, until recently, have seemed
an unlikely venue: Facebook, the social-networking site.
In most countries in the Arab world, Facebook is now one of the 10 most-
visited Web sites, and, in Egypt it ranks third, after Google and Yahoo.
About one in nine Egyptians has Internet access, and around 9 percent of
that group are on Facebook a total of almost 800,000 members.
This month, hundreds of Egyptian Facebook members, in private homes and
at Internet cafes, have set up Gaza-related groups.
Most expressed hatred for Israel and the United States, but each one had
its own focus.
Some sought to coordinate humanitarian aid to Gaza, some criticized the
Egyptian government, some criticized other Arab countries for blaming
Egypt for the conflict and still others railed against Hamas .. Another
group implored God to destroy and burn the hearts of the Zionists.
Freedom of speech and the right to assemble are limited.. a permanent
state-of-emergency law .. An estimated 18,000 Egyptians are imprisoned
under the law, which allows the police to arrest people without charges,
allows the government to ban political organizations and makes it illegal
for more than 5 people to gather without a license from the government.
Newspapers are monitored by the Ministry of Information ..
And so for young people in Egypt, Facebook, which allows users to speak
freely to one another and encourages them to form groups, is irresistible
as a platform not only for social interaction but also for dissent.
Although there are countless political Facebook groups in Egypt .. the
one with the most dynamic debates is that of the April 6 Youth Movement,
a group of 70,000 mostly young and educated Egyptians, most of whom had
never been involved with politics before joining the group.
Members coalesce around a few issues free speech, economic stagnation
and government nepotism and they share their ideas for improving Egypt.
But they do more than just chat: they have tried to organize street
protests to free jailed journalists, and this month, hundreds of young
people from the April 6 group participated in demonstrations about Gaza,
some of which were coordinated on Facebook, and at least eight members of
the group were detained by police.
As with any group on Facebook, members can post comments or share news
articles, videos or notes on the groups communal wall. The wall of the
April 6 group is constantly being updated with new posts, and the talk is
often heated and intense.
On a recent afternoon, members were discussing photographs that had just
been posted on the Muslim Brotherhood Web site of a mass protest in
Alexandria against Israels actions in Gaza, in which thousands of
members of the brotherhood took to the streets.
They are real men! posted a young woman using the alias Mona Liza..
Another member dissented: We need strong actions, not protests like the
brotherhoods where they sing religious songs and go home.
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