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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid