Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

Facebook and the Internet Influence Egyptian Politics

June 03, 2008 02:28 PM
by Josh Katz
In April and May, young activists used Facebook to organize opposition to the Egyptian government. Now, Egypt is thinking about banning Facebook.

30-Second Summary

Yesterday, an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times said that Egypt “is considering blocking Facebook” following the antigovernment protests in April and May that were coordinated using the popular social networking Web site.

The protests were over soaring food and oil prices and a growing gap between rich and poor in the country, according to World Politics Review. Although Egypt’s economy has been growing, “there’s been little trickle down to the 45 percent of Egyptians who continue to survive on $2 a day,” the article writes.

In April, workers at a state-owned textile factory in Mahalla, Egypt, planned to strike for better pay. Just before the strike, a young woman named Esra Abd El-Fattah used Facebook to garner support for the workers by calling for a nationwide strike. The strike occurred as planned throughout the country on April 6.

A second Internet campaign pushed for a May 4 strike in Egypt, boasting about 150,000 Facebook members. But this time, President Hosni Mubarak undercut his opponents by promising reforms and he warned protesters of repercussions.

The two protests show that the Internet could be a significant political force, and not only in Egypt. Last week Canadians protested in favor of net neutrality, a rally organized through Facebook.  In February, a different Facebook group attracted 250,000 members, causing protests in 185 international cities in opposition to the Colombian rebel group FARC.

On the other hand, blogger and activist Mustafa Domanic argues that, “Without grass-roots action on the field, online political activism is useless.”

Background: Egyptian discontent leads to Facebook protests

Opinion & Analysis: The Internet as a political tool

Related Topic: ‘Facebook used to target Colombia’s FARC with global rally’

Reference: ‘Country profile: Egypt’


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