News / Middle East

In Egypt, Facebook Serves as Tool for Government, Opponents

A screenshot of "We Are All Khaled Said" Facebook page, named in 2011 after Egyptian activist who was a victim of police brutality in Alexandria, Egypt, Feb, 4, 2014.
A screenshot of "We Are All Khaled Said" Facebook page, named in 2011 after Egyptian activist who was a victim of police brutality in Alexandria, Egypt, Feb, 4, 2014.
Elizabeth Arrott
In the 10 years since the launch of Facebook, few countries' political life has been as affected by the social network as Egypt.  

In June, 2010, a young Egyptian was beaten to death by police in Alexandria.  Even though there were numerous witnesses, police claimed the victim choked to death while trying to hide drugs.

Despite efforts by friends and family to unearth the truth, 28-year-old Khaled Said appeared destined to become yet another obscure statistic in a long history of Egyptian police brutality.  

Enter Facebook.  Supporters of the young man created a page on the popular social network called “We are all Khaled Said.”   With hundreds of thousands of likes, it was the center piece of an emerging wave of resistance to the repressive rule of President Hosni Mubarak.  

Khaled Said's killers went on trial.  And a new generation of opposition forces found a way to unite.

The activists behind the January 2011 uprising against the Mubarak government have credited Facebook for helping them organize and mobilize their revolt.  

Cairo-based journalist Bel Trew, speaking to Reuters, explained that during that time, it also acted as an alternative to traditional Egyptian media.

"Citizen journalism really exploded in 2011 and Facebook and Twitter were one of those ways, well two of those ways, that people were able to get information out there to the rest of the world because their own media wasn't helping," she said.

With an estimated 16 million members, Egypt is the biggest Facebook user in the Arab world, a fact not lost on subsequent leaders.  The military used it to communicate during their rule after the revolution, as did the Muslim Brotherhood supporters of President Mohamed Morsi.

In the crackdown on dissent and street protests since the Morsi ouster last year, his supporters have increasingly turned to Facebook.

Such online activism can come at a price.  Authorities last week arrested 11 Muslim Brotherhood members on charges of using their accounts for “inciting violence.”

But even as Egyptian jails fill with people deemed anti-government forces, including journalists from Al Jazeera, critics of the crackdown keep turning to the social network to get their point across.  On Tuesday, Facebook's 10th anniversary, journalists from around the world posted their support for their imprisoned colleagues.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid