Three Key Moments of Egyptian Citizen Media

When I was asked to put together an overview for citizen media in Egypt, my mind immediately jumped to the 25th of May 2005, and particularly to a post written by Egyptian blogger Wahda Masrya (An Egyptian woman) entitled “Details of assaulting female journalists”. She was updating her readers about a protest that took place in Cairo and Alexandria against recent constitutional changes back then – where the police was brutally assaulting female journalists.

You may have heard the above lines repeated anywhere, and all the time, but in 2005 and in Egypt it was so uncommon to: first hear about a protest taking place under emergency law that’s controlling the country for roughly 30 years, and secondly, to know that calls for such protest started on blogs, and that bloggers who went to the demonstration were reporting the incident themselves, under their names and pictures.

In a podcast [Ar] with her last December, I asked Shahinaz about the “We are not afraid” words on her blog’s avatar, and she replied “That day marked a new era, and I wished to tell them – we are not really afraid”.

إجتماع سري لبعض كوادر حركة ٣٠ فبراير

Photo by Hossam ElHamalawy.

I have to say that since then, numbers of blogs were rapidly increasing, despite the many arrests and detention that followed. But the peak of attention to citizen journalism in Egypt was highlighted in 3 important incidents:

1- Circulating videos showing group sexual harassment downtown [Ar], November 2006, which although strongly denied via officials, yet the continuous talks about the incident online was able to attract attention to the phenomena, and hence proved the incident creditability. It also resulted in the emergence of many campaigns against harassment in Egyptian streets.
2- Publishing another video showing the brutality practiced in police offices, for a microbus driver Emad El-Kebir being sodomized with a stick by Captain Islam Nabih, who was later convicted of torture and sexual abuse in November 2007 and was sentenced to three years in prison.
3- in 2008, the calls for the first civil disobedience started on a facebook group, which later on resulted in extreme riots in ElMahala governate, and other strikes in 6th of April each year, and a new youth movement titled “6th of April” as well.

The above movie, “Inside the network” explains the role of the Egyptian blogsphere in exposing human rights abuses and the role of the social-networking website Facebook and the micro-blogging platform Twitter in organizing demos and strikes, such as the April 6 strike and the May 4th General Strike.

The Egyptian blogsphere is broad and vibrant, and there is so much about citizen media usage in Egypt – varying between social, political, religious, or cultural issues. During the Global Voices summit in Chile, I should be discussing more about Citizen Media in Egypt, its past, present and future. Make sure to join!

Eman AbdElRahmanAn Egyptian blogger and an engineer by profession. Interested in new media, freedom of speech, women’s rights and the democracy in Egypt. I also work on “Kolena Laila” to give a chance for Arab women to speak out against the injustice they face in the Arab World. Visit my blog, Flickr, and Twitter.


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