By LAURA KASINOF (Middle East Times)
Published: April 29, 2008
CAIRO -- Egyptians are using the online social networking tool Facebook to defy the government's attempt to muzzle the media and hush recent incidents of police brutality during a strike by workers in a town in the Nile Delta.
Indeed, Internet users in Egypt have given the popular Web site Facebook a new role: a platform for political activism, such as promoting anti-government demonstrations.
"The next strike will be the most successful, the strongest, and the least in losses," declares a Facebook group called 'A General Strike for the Egyptian People – April 6th,' which had promoted the work stoppage that occurred just over two weeks ago in Egypt. The strike was called as a response to a crisis over rising food prices that has gripped the nation recently.
The group, which calls for the Egyptian government to increase wages to match the price hike, as well as respect international human rights, announced just one day after the events of April 6 that another strike would take place on May 4 – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's 80th birthday.
The April 6 strike played out most intensely in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla el-Kobra where protestors clashed with security forces. Photographs from the day showing police beating civilians in addition to protesters ripping down a giant poster of Mubarak are being circulated on Facebook.
Esraa Abdel Fattah, the 27-year-old Egyptian woman who administers the Egyptian Facebook site, was arrested mid-April in a coffee shop close to her work. She was being detained on charges of helping to organize the April 6 protest. She was released however on April 23 after a personal plea to Mubarak from her mother.
According to Facebook, Fattah's group, one of a handful of groups on the Internet Web site propagating the May 4 strike, has over 73,000 members; and the numbers are growing daily.
"Necessity being the mother of invention, as they say, led Egyptians to use Facebook to express themselves politically as well as socially," said Mona Eltahawy, a journalist who has lectured extensively on blogging and the Arab world, and recently on the Facebook activism phenomenon in Egypt. "There are very few venues available for Egyptians to express themselves so it's natural that they would take their views where there is the most freedom," she added.
Muhammad Abdel Hai, administrator for the Facebook group 'We'll Wear Black Clothes on May 4th' and personal friend of Fattah, was involved in the liberal El Ghad political party prior to his use of Facebook. He said that Facebook just became a natural extension of his political activities, because it is an easy way to connect with other Egyptians who share similar ideologies.
"Because there is no other way I can use [Facebook]," Hai said. "The first time I saw that it was a better way to broadcast my videos and pictures, and I started to write notes and I found that many people would make comments on my notes, some of them 200 or 300 comments."
As for the April 6 strike, Hai asserted that every Egyptian young person who participated did so because of messages that they received via Facebook encouraging them to take part.
Eltahawy believes that this claim just might be true.
"I believe Facebook is having that large of influence," she said. "There is a tremendous ripple effect – those who read about the strike on Facebook will then tell their friends and so on and so forth."
The Egyptian government has definitely started to feel the pressure caused by Facebook political activism, according to Eltahawy.
"The fact that a regime that has been in power for 26 years felt it necessary to arrest a 26-year-old woman for starting a Facebook group is clear proof of the threat that the regime feels from Facebook," she said.
When asked if he was worried that he would be arrested for participating in anti-government activities like his friend Fattah, Hai responded with an empathic "No."
May 4 as a planned day for political dissent was quickly picked up as news by various media sources, including the Egyptian opposition paper Al-Badil, after it was announced on Facebook.
What are Hai's goals for May 4?
"First goal is to release my friends. And the second, I would just like more people to think about the country, the life, and political affairs here in Egypt," he said.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
By LAURA KASINOF (Middle East Times)
When the problems of economic and political and the manifestations of corruption Prevailed in the veins of our beloved Homeland Egypt clearly within this nation torn.
we started without any guidance from abroad or even from the inside unanimously to our demands to change all these circumstances and obstacles that would inevitably lead to the loss and weakness of this beloved Homeland Egypt . We the youth of this generation declare that we do not want to continue with this system corruption which surrounds the Basics of life starting from the contaminated blood and cancer food and eating donkeys meat
Also the extremely expensive cost of living for the simple citizens and the marginalization of many of us, the corruption of Education, oppression, torture of humans, concentration of Egypt’s money in the hands of a certain layer of people according to this and more we are calling for the Freedom of the Egyptian people.
We are declaring our anger and rebellion on the conditions that would not let the green or the land for our children’s future
If the previous generations had given up on our rights we will not overly our future
And the future of the next generations and these are our demands in a homeland which won’t be free except with it’s free Consciousness youth.
1- Minimum wage for all groups and jobs and pay-price as in all countries that suffer of price rise
2- Real action to stop rising prices and antitrust action
3- Release all political prisoners and the opinion cases
we are inviting all of you and inviting all gazettes and opposition and all the media video and audio to the Solidarity with the Egyptian people in their strike on the 4th of May 2008 to publish a black page on the strike day as an expression of mourning on the conditions of Egypt and the suffering of the Egyptian people or at least the abolition of colours of the newspaper on this day.
We invite all television programmes to put a black bar side screen and the programmes would be about the strike and about the deteriorating conditions in Egypt on that day the 4th of May .
And we urge the Egyptians to stand by us on our declaration of anger not to continue with the System corruption negatively as usual
The strength is in the people's will
The free youth
The youth of 6th April
Thursday, April 24, 2008
During the speech of Dr/ Nazeef in Cairo University for the Centennial ceremony.
Belal one of the liberals students who Came to his words demanding the release of the detainee of 6th April
His words were :
Mr president , Egypt is very sad, the detainee youths of 6 April strike are the youths of the internet, the detainee youths wants you to release them , they are those who stood beside you in your times of difficulties in the economic davos conference
There is nothing wrong with the Universities and the education
The bread is everywhere , the democracy and freedom exists
Mr president free Egypt Mr president
Free Egypt Mr president
Video capture by Adam Tantawy
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
In the Name of God The most merciful
To all our friends who were taken away from us but their soul stayed with us,
their courage, their Enthusiasm which leads us to Do more.
From here… from inside our heart we are sending you this letter not for encouraging you
For you are courage and we draw from you courage
But to express how Egypt is so proud of you, you were the beginning and by us and the rest we opened our mouth and moved the deaf stones
Stay as you are , a candle that lights a dark road , we won’t leave it dark anymore.
Stay as you are , a blossomed rose that draws hope and smile on the faces
Stay as you are always in our hearts
This was a message directed to each detainee of the 6th of April strike 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
We succeeded in delivering our message, we succeeded in expressing our opinions and delivery voted for decision makers.
More than 40% of the Egyptians joined us, had it not been for the fear and the subjugation it would have been possible that all the Egyptians joined us. This is a successful start .
We are not a political party and we do not seek ruling the country we are the biggest loyal gathering on the internet.
Our next strike is on Sunday the 4th of may we will give the government a chance till our next strike for the implementation of our specified and legitimate claims
1- the minimum wages for all levels and all kind of work and ties the wages with the increase in prices as all of the other countries who suffers from the increase in prices do
2- real measures to stop the increase in prices and preventing the monopoly.
3- termination and cancellation of Emergency Law Terrorism Act
4- Release all detainees
5- Stop exporting gas and cement and iron for Israel and not selling land to Israel.
Our demands are specific and government can implement if the government abandoned on personal interests of businessmen who are close to power.
Implementing our demands valley if decision makers in Egypt can be carried out the words of our scientists and researchers and thinkers
1- Unanimity to the comment flag in Egypt Balconies and black flags and any plates or placards contain our simple
2- Unanimity to wear black clothing
3- Been unanimously agreed to strike and not to buy any goods for 3 days,
4- Everybody must start working hard since this day until the day of the next strike to deploy all those ideas between the Egyptian people and they are our companions, our families, our relatives and colleagues at work using every legitimate means of invitations explicit general or individual or send messages or portable telephone.or Email, forums and blogs, advertising sites, journals, newspapers, magazines. And also hang banners and wear T shirts that bears the call of the strike From now until the day of strike and the university students should publish all such ideas between friends and colleagues and publishing an attempt by all peaceful means.
5- Due to the Discussions according to the members of group and also outside the group April 6 is the beginning but not the end and that May the 4th is the second step We will continue on striking and protesting by all means after the 4th of May So we can disseminate the idea to the largest number of people and compel the government and decision makers in Egypt on the Obedience to the desire of people
6- Do not forget to call for the release of the detainees
We are the General strike of the people of Egypt on 6th of April group which was created on face book With the link www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=9973986703
Which consists of more than 70000 members which combines all the people that are convinced of expressing with all possible legitimate and peaceful protesting means.
We declare our full Rejecting for any incidents of violence in the country recently and our renunciation of violence in all its forms and images and we strongly condemn the violence incidents which happened in Al-Mahala Al-kobra on the 6th and 7th of April 2008
We demand to punish who caused to push the angry crowd to use violence and We emphasize that violence is not a legitimate means of the expression of opinion. We do believe that there are many peaceful and Legitimate ways that any citizen have the right to use to express his opinion or his anger, means we advocated such as sitting at home and province purchasing any product, and wearing black colors, Lifting the Egyptian flag in balconies, strike from work for those who won’t harm the interests of vital government work state Or peaceful demonstration.
We do strongly condemn the excessive use of force by Egyptian Security to suppress the the demonstrators in the city of Mahala which was the beginning of natal spark violence in some demonstrators. Which led to confrontations in no way is in the best interest of any Egyptian.
We also wish to emphasize the legitimacy of our demands which aims to the benefit of ordinary Egyptian citizen
1- The call for minimum wages for all levels and all kind of work that ties the wages with the continuing increase in prices as all of the other countries who suffers from the increase in prices do.
2- Real action to stop high prices and antitrust.
3- We also demand the immediate release all detainees on background events of 6th of April 2008 according to the law of Acts of the constitution and international covenants on human rights Which guarantees the right to peaceful demonstration and the freedom of opinion and expression
General strike of the people of Egypt on 6th of April group