Friday, October 4, 2013

The Use of Technology by Egyptian Activists

         As groups in many Middle Eastern countries have recently or are currently protesting against their government in favor of democracy, it is interesting to learn about the role that social media and technology plays in the spreading of ideas.  Through our own media and sources of information, we often hear about violent outbreaks and political and military action, but we rarely look at the way that groups of protesters organize and spread their movement.  In fact, these social media efforts by human rights activists within Middle Eastern countries may have profound impacts on the spread of ideas and the eventual success of democracy in a country, maybe even a bigger impact than the political processes we hear about and pay attention to.
         Currently in Egypt, even though President Hosni Mubarak was removed from power two and a half years ago, there is still a lot of violence between police and protesters.  The debate over the current governmental situation, fueled by artists and bloggers, is initiated and led mainly through social media.  In fact, even political players have used social media to gauge public opinion.  A man who ran as a liberal candidate in the first parliamentary elections after Mubarak was ousted even asked on Facebook whether or not he should leave the country, to which he received several comments, some saying that Egypt needs “people like him more than ever” and others arguing that it will be at least another generation before Egypt is ready for a liberal democracy. 
         As the violence continues between the Muslim Brotherhood, the military, and the protesters, artists have been using technology and media to document and display the brutality.  The nonprofit video collective Moriseen has been filming this street violence, and recently released a video entitled “Prayer of Fear” which documents the reaction to the Muslim Brotherhood’s fall from power.  This video achieves it’s powerful message about the need for change and an end to this violence through an image of a woman walking the streets in a gas mask and hoodie and reciting a poem: “The battle this time isn’t easy/ The battle is murky/ Are we winning?/ Or in line for slaughter?/ Is the question shameful?/ Or is silence worse?”  Overall, I find this article very interesting because it exposes the way in which protesters are using technology and media to promote ideas about change and progress in Egypt. 

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