For almost a week now the Egyptian protests have dominated the news agenda.
Non stop rolling images of burning trucks, marches and adrenaline fuelled Egyptians (while the army and police look on) have taken centre stage as tens of thousands take to the streets to protest against Hosni Mubarak’s thirty year presidency.
Old protest v New protest
Social protest in Egypt and the wider Middle East is nothing new, but this time the internet and UGC has played a vital part in organising protestors and relaying real time images to the world’s media.
In Iran in 1979 for example the proliferation of tapes of Khoemini preaching did much to whip the Iranians into a frenzy. In 1990, the Gulf War was the first time satellites were used to produce real time images of fighting and conflict. In 2011, social networking sites, particularly twitter, facebook and youtube as well as camera and video phones have been instrumental in keeping us up-to-date as well as organising protesters.
The April 6th movement for example, by far the most active and well known of all the protest movements has used blogs, facebook and twitter for years to spread the news of the protests and mobilize people.
And Sherine Barakat, interviewed on BBC news said of Egypt, “Today every person is a journalist.” It is no secret that Egyptians love the internet and that postings of film, images and twitter made by ordinary Egyptians armed with camera phones has appeared on the pages of the BBC, al-jazeera and other news agencies and channels across the world as well as keeping friends, family and other loved ones in the loop.
In fact the internet has proved to be so dangerous that the government disconnected it on Thursday evening. Thats 80 million people offline. All April6th correspondence ends then.
What does this mean? Several things. The Government is scared. Mubarak has realised that pictures are powerful.Violence could erupt – after all who is left monitoring unfolding events.
Or it could be the final nail in Mubarak’s coffin. The Egyptian people don’t look like they are backing down, but so far neither does he.
masr inshallah kulu qweies (Egypt, god willing all will be good)