Iâ€™ve spent almost a month in Egypt and can tell you that what I saw was a divide between the rich and poor, corruption, and poverty. As the picture on this page shows of me in Cairo standing in the middle of garbage, something common all over the city, things have got to change. However I also saw the rise of the internet and cell phone use.
Never in the last 30 years under President Mubarak has he seen such powerful protests. The people were originally using the internet and cell phones to pass on information about the protests on the streets. President Mubarak then shut down the cell phone towers and internet connection.
However, the people of Egypt are allowed to see the governmentâ€™s TV station. As it turns out, when you cut people off from information exchange it seems that anger is the result, and obviously so. According to Al Jazeera people came poring into the streets moments after the little information they got from their televisions of Mubarakâ€™s speech.
Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary, urges Egypt to turn on the internet and social networks. The U.S. has also stated that they will not give Egypt 1.4 billion dollars if the government uses violent action towards the protesters. It seems that the cell phone towers will not be turned on anytime soon if the protests continue. It has been stated that protests scheduled for Saturday was called for on the internet days ago.
The people of Egypt know that the protests have been scheduled, but cannot get onto the internet to do further organizing against this repressive regime. It seems to me that when you cut off the power of the internet and cell phones people just simply get more angry, and will have to turn to taking to the streets to get their information. If this is the case then turning off the internet and cell phones will simply backfire.
The information that Mubarak gave to the people of Egypt was complete BS. He told the people that he is on the side of the poor when he has not been for 30 years, that he will dismantle the government tomorrow, that there will be more political freedom, that people are free to demonstrate, etc, but we know that calling in the armed forces to protect the presidential palace Mubarak has little to no incentive to change.
With police stations burning, 11 dead, Alexandria government buildings burned down, and the ruling partiesâ€™ headquarters burned down it seems there is no stopping the people. It also seems next to go will be the Ministry of Information and the Presidential palace. The government is obviously afraid of the people or else they would not have shut down the internet and cell phones. When you take away peopleâ€™s means of communication during these times it will only lead to anger and revolt.
In the future any revolution like that of what we are seeing in Egypt will need to take seriously the use of â€œshadow networksâ€, networks that smart phones allow. What that means is phone connected to phone, connected to phone via Bluetooth and the like, which any government cannot shut down.
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