In Egypt, Social Media Remains Revolutionary When Blogger Is Arrested

Major media outlets may have moved on from Egypt’s revolution, but the fight is far from over. In Egypt, an activist blogger is arrested, and Egyptian social media users express their discontent.

Major media outlets may have moved on from Egypt’s revolution, but the fight is far from over. In Egypt, an activist blogger is arrested, and Egyptian social media users express their discontent.

From Egypt to Lybia 2011 has been the year of the social media revolution, and Egypt’s uprising was one of the major revolutions this year. On January 25th, 2011, protests began in Egypt; the goal of the revolt was to remove Mubarak, then President of Egypt, from power. By January 29th, it was clear that the Mubarak government had lost control, and by February 11th, 2011 Mubarak fled to Cairo, marking a victory for the Egyptian people. The success of the revolution and international recognition it garnered was heavily influenced by social media.

Fast forward eight months, and one of Egypt’s prominent revolutionaries and bloggers has been taken into custody by the country’s military rulers. 29-year old Alaa Abd El Fattah, has been a leader of anti-regime struggles for more than ten years. He is from a well-known leftist family and was previously held as a political prisoner during the Mubarak era. On Sunday October 20th, 2011, Fattah was arrested and charged with inciting violence against the military. He refused to answer interrogators questions and will be held for fifteen days.

Presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh said that the arrest was “a major setback for the Egyptian revolution, and the influential“No to Military Trials” group released a statement saying: “Abd El Fattah’s targeting is only the latest example of the systematic targeting of journalists, media figures, bloggers and activists by SCAF [the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces].” The statement continued: “As of today we refuse to co-operate with the military prosecution of civilians and we call on all Egyptian citizens to stand with us … This is not the new Egypt we have fought and died for.”

On social media, many Egyptians expressed their feelings about the arrest. The hashtag #FreeAlaa trended. Further, a group created a  Facebook page asking for Abd El Fattah’s freedom; in just hours, the Facebook page received nearly 1500 “likes”.

Other prominent social media users, journalists, and activists responded to the arrest with specific tweets. Nazly Hussein wrote on Twitter: “It’s ridiculous, Mina Daniel’s sister goes to C28 [a military prosecution facility] in case she is needed to testify and show solidarity with Alaa, only to find Mina’s name at the top of the list of the accused in Maspero events.” According to Alyoum: English Edition: “Hani Shukrallah, a journalist, tweeted a call for an international solidarity campaign with Alaa, urging some Egyptian officials such as Minister of Culture Emad Abu Ghazy, Minister of Social Solidarity Gouda Abdel Khaleq, and Minister of Finance and Deputy PM Hazem al-Beblawy, to resign in objection to the measures against Abd El Fattah.

The official rioting may have stopped in Egypt, and  the Twitter trending which dominated international social media waves in the beginning of the year may have calmed, but in Egypt itself, social media is still a revolutinary tool giving voice to the people.