Fledgling Rebellion on Facebook Is Struck Down by Force in Egypt
By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, May 18, 2008; A01
CAIRO -- At 1:49 a.m. in an Internet cafe only then quieting after Cairo's daily rumble, 27-year-old Ahmed Maher worked at a computer. He wore the same shirt he had had on for two days. The essentials of his life on the run lay splayed out next to his keyboard -- car keys, cigarettes, prepaid cellphone.
Maher pursed his lips, typing intently. His dream of a people's uprising organized on Facebook was beginning to slip through his scrabbling fingers.
Worries about the risks of political activism in Egypt were spilling onto his screen. It won't work, one man wrote. The government's already infiltrated us, wrote another. This is stupid, wrote a third.
Since late March, 74,000 people had registered on a Facebook page created and run by Maher and a few other young Egyptians, most of them newcomers to activism. Even some of Egypt's older, more disillusioned proponents of democracy had let themselves hope that a social networking Web site created by American college students could become an electronic rallying point for protest against President Hosni Mubarak's 27-year rule.
But the experience of the Facebook activists showed the limits of technology as a means of organizing dissent against a repressive government. Maher would end up among what rights groups said were 500 Egyptians arrested during two months of political activism in Egypt -- and find himself stripped and beaten in a Cairo police station, he said.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Posted by WE at 12:59 PM