Egypt: A Technology-Driven Revolution

Posted on March 3, 2011

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On Friday, February 11, 2011, the streets of Egypt were bursting with parading men and women celebrating the liberation of their country from the oppressive, autocratic President Hosni Mubarak. Tens of thousands of people flooded Tahrir Square, one of the most important sites of the revolution. The pavements were lined with complete strangers bouncing and hugging each other, sharing the same pure happiness and optimism for their country’s future.

Throughout the streets of Egypt, chants such as “lift your head high, you’re an Egyptian,” and “the people, at last, have brought down the regime,” resonated off of buildings and echoed throughout the city of Cairo. As flags were waved and fists were thrown into the night air in triumph, the screens of cameras, cell phones, and recording devices illuminated the crowds.

On this very day, the world witnessed the end of an 18-day uprising started by young, irritated Egyptian activists; discontent with the direction their government was leading their country. The oppressive government had censored the media, enforced strict curfews, and limited the rights of its citizens. Angered by the limitations of their rights, activists harnessed the power of social media and networking sites to start this revolution.

Through social networking and media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the world was able to read the thoughts and hear the voices of thousands of Egyptian protesters. Through YouTube, the international community was able to see Tahrir Square demonstrations and street protests that proved pivotal in the uprising against the Mubarak, the country’s previous ruler for 29 consecutive years.

Although the average American uses sites such as Facebook and Twitter during times of leisure, the power of these social networking sites should never be underestimated. The 18-day uprising began with many activists using these sites to send messages to citizens across Egypt, informing them of protesting dates, times, and locations. This technique soon gained popularity and caught the eyes of thousands of more citizens each day.

Conscious and fearful of social media’s potential, Mubarak’s government closed access to these sites. When this was not enough to quell to protestors, the government shut down the internet completely for two days and ceased cell phone service. This rendered many incapable of communicating. Despite these desperate attempts by the government to freeze communication, the demonstrations continued and journalists kept reporting on these developing protests.

With the country now free from the oppressive reins of its government, many citizens are thanking Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for their uprising’s success. Not only did these sites help Egyptian citizens record the big events in the uprising, but also the small moments that will forever be remembered by all citizens. After all, without the YouTube video entitled “Tiananmen-like courage in Cairo: Egypt’s 25 Jan Protests,” the world would not know about one brave activist’s actions which is being described as Egypt’s Tiananmen Square moment. For those of you who are unaware, the 1989 Tiananmen Square moment was when a student protester stood in the middle of a Beijing street, blocking a line of advancing tanks. This “tank man” risked his life in order to speak up against the People’s Republic of China autocratic government and demand economic change. The brave protester in Egypt committee a similar action, standing in the way of water tanks spraying the protesting crowds.

These social networking sites served as an agent to free thousands of repressed people from a domineering government. During this revolution Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, not only became the voice of the Egyptian people, but also the platform with which they won their freedom.

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Posted in: News