Egyptians Use Facebook to Mobilize, Government Not Happy


Social networking site Facebook is getting in the way of Egypt's emergency law governance, which has not allowed more than five people to congregate unless registered for the last 25 years.

In April, young citizens used Facebook to get 80,000 supporters to protest rising food prices. Also that month, on April 6, the site spread support and increased turnout for a textile workers' strike and protest. Just yesterday, an imprisoned blogger was released, after being allegedly tortured for his alleged role in the April 6 deadly protests.

Now, the LA Times reports that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak may shut off Facebook access in Egypt. Already, the government is warning media not to mention Facebook, while leading a defamation campaign against those who use it.

The article continues to say that the Facebook movement, which offers a safe political space, has shown that there is secular opposition in Egypt. If not ill-fated, Facebook activism may counter the agenda of President Mubarak's son Gamal, who wants to gain youth support for his succession to power.

The Internet, which helps citizens circumvent traditional repression by allowing them to meet virtually, may be the solution for a freer society in Egypt. But, considering that only 40 percent of Egyptians are literate, and much less have Internet access, online tools will most likely be only a catalyst at first.

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