Monday, February 14, 2011

First Internet Revolution: The Arab World in movement

I want to take the time to talk about the recent revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia but also talk about the uprising public movements against governments in the Middle East supported by social media. Being from the Middle East I give myself the right to analyze and give my personal opinion on the topic, although I can’t say that I represent every Arab around the world.
Internet and the Revolutions:
The Arab world is in movement! Thirsty for freedom and for a democratic government, the younger generation in Tunisia and Egypt accelerated the history of the Middle East. No one expected the fall of governments long supported by the west and most importantly by the US government. It is still very early to know where Middle Eastern countries are headed after the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt but it is certainly correct to say that there is a fundamental change and it will affect the region but also the international political scene. Those two revolutions pushed  the two leaders: Ben Ali from Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak from Egypt, who were very well installed in their seats, but of whom the aging has given birth to a new generation of internet and social media users who realized the harsh reality of their countries.
In Tunisia, a neighboring country of my home country Morocco, the flame has lit when the oppression of a young man by the police haven’t been treated with justice which pushed the young man to burn himself alive. Perhaps ten years ago this big and painful event would have occurred without anyone noticing or taking action, simply because the news and media in Middle Eastern countries are corrupt and highly controlled by the governments... yes News can and are still controlled in some parts of the world. However, the media has taken a different meaning, given by Social Media and let me tell you one learned fact about it: It is uncontrollable!
Everyone of us, logs on and off several times a day on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube thinking at the end of the day that it has wasted quite a long time of our day. I’m hoping that this post would encourage everyone today, to look at social media differently and appreciate the power it has proven to have on our everyday life. Nor Egyptians, neither Arabs around the world, thought that there could be any power forcing Ben Ali or Mubarak to resign or leave space for political freedom and democracy. It was certainly a dream we all shared, but knew it was absolutely never going to be more than just a dream which we couldn't share with anyone: we believed even walls had ears and kept any frustration against the government to ourselves only!
In fact, internet made a dream of an oppressed nation come true.
It all started with blogs, Facebook groups, and tweets denouncing what is happening in some dictator governments in the Middle East. But soon people realized that there is a big majority sharing those same concerns and frustrations, the next step was to create a facebook event to get people together and actually start acting against the dictator regimes instead of just talking about it.
In Tunisia, a facebook event got thousands of people protesting together, in Egypt they felt videos were more powerful so they shared videos asking to revolt and organized step by step the protests. We always hear unity is a power, it is true but it was hard to see clearly this unity until the internet has come to play an important role in our lives. Before the only good change we could hope for, is a change coming from higher up: the government. Today we actually can hope for a change coming from the bottom, from the people, from the young aware citizens, from the internet users.
What I found fascinating is that democracy could be practiced during the protests in Egypt even before the election of a democratic government. When I mentioned prior, that the big majority of Egyptians were opposed to the government, I meant that there were Egyptian citizens who thought the government was fair and governing in the best way possible. The pro-Mubarak citizens also organized protests and gathered through facebook and twitter. The two groups anti and pro-Mubarak met in the same spot to express their different opinions. One could notice the triumph of the anti-Mubarak group by the size of the facebook groups and by the attendance of the different facebook events. I felt I was witnessing a great Internet revolution and lived every moment of it behind my laptop.

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