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First Internet Revolution: The Arab World in movement

Guest post by: Sara Amiri, Finance major and Political Science minor

I want to take the time to tell CoBE students about the recent revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia but also talk about the rising public movements against governments in the Middle East supported by the social media. Being from the Middle East I give myself the right to analyze and give my personal opinion about 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 young generation in Tunisia and Egypt accelerated the history in 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 the 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 are 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 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. Maybe ten years ago this big and painful event would have happened without anyone noticing, 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, media and news have taken a different meaning given to them by the 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. Egyptians, neither Arabs around the world, have thought that the people could make Ben Ali or Mubarak resign. It was certainly a dream we all had but we thought we absolutely knew it was never going to be more than just a dream that 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 who shared the same concern and frustration, 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 before that the big majority of Egyptians were opposed to the government, I meant that there were Egyptian citizens who thought the government was good. 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 event. I felt I was witnessing a great Internet revolution and lived every moment of it behind my laptop.

About CoBE Report

Information about this author is included at the end of the blog post.
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