Effect of Egyptian Blogs on Politics, Society

Hossam Al- Hamalawy, a journalist and a distinguished blogger, comments on the blogs in Egypt in general saying that “Blogs” in Egypt have been playing a very important role, and they actually emerged and widely increased in 2005.

The reason behind that increase in the number of blogs was the incident of attacking a number of Egyptian female journalists, and afterwards the referendum on May 25, 2006.”
He says, “That was the real spark which led to the existence of real bloggers who write about serious important issues…
Before these incidents, there was also a good number of  bloggers in Egypt, but they used to write about their own feelings, experiences, relationships and the situations they personally meet.  
What is very interesting is that a good number of those writing and commenting on political issues are independents, not belonging to any party or group.

This means that  the youth of the Egyptian society are well- cultured and aware of the political issues happening around them.
About the blogs and its direct influence on politics in Egypt, Hossam Al- Hamalawy says that according to latest statistics, the rate of people who have a cyber access in Egypt are nearly 8%.  And it’s a very low rate.

So we shouldn’t exaggerate the role and effect of bloggers in Egypt, as this number of people “who have a cyber access in Egypt” is very small in comparison to all citizens in Egypt.

Their effect wouldn’t ever express the will or opinion of all Egyptians.
“On the other hand,” Hossam says, “ Blogs now have an important role in society.

We see the press conferences held by the Human Rights Organization, or the Civil Society Organization declaring that (all people are invited, and this includes journalists “& bloggers”).
Also bloggers have a great role in advertising campaigns, either those related to the detainees and arrested civilians, or the different acts done by activists…etc.
Also the Egyptian media have recently begun to depend much on blogs and what’s written in them, so you may find some political activists, journalists, or reporters who are familiar with certain blogs and depend on them in their news.

They even sometimes depend on blogs to cover some news that were published in detail by a certain blog.
This for sure shows the great role the bloggers have, but in the same time, we should not exaggerate and say that bloggers affect the whole society.
Hossam Al- Hamalawy has a clear distinguished view for the MB blogs.
He says, “In general, the leftists and independents are those who started the experience of writing blogs in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood youth had been comparatively late in such experience. But their influence has been increasing very fast. The blogs of the MB started with Mon’em’s famous blog and other blogs of youth working on ikhwanweb web site.”
He adds, “The MB blogs have a positive and a very important role, which we all (as bloggers) hoped to see.

Their role now is quite central, people can know many of the Muslim Brotherhood group news only from blogs.
There is a host of MB bloggers nowadays as my colleague, and dear friend, Ibrahim Al-Hodeiby, who uses video posting in his blog in order to deliver his message to the MB youth, his successful work has created“ in my opinion” a positive state of interaction, productive discussion and thinking among the MB members, and specially the youth. Such interaction among MB youth never occurred in the nineties.
“It’s worth mentioning”, Hossam says, “that the MB blogs and ikwanweb website care much about tortures and violating human rights.
We all benefit from their news about such cases and we are much affected by them.
For example, in the past you would have never known if any harassments or arrest campaigns have taken place in Kafr Al-Sheikh or Daqahlia.
Now it’s quite easy to check any of the MB blogs or “ikhwanweb” to know about it any detail.
That’s a great distinguished role by the MB bloggers in Egypt.” He added, “As a journalist, I usually check and see certain blogs before even seeing Al-Masry Al-Youm newspapers, especially if I wanted to know about political issues.
Blogs cover news in general with more detail. Also you can know if there are any protests or arrests…etc.
from blogs, not from the ordinary media.
Also (The power of the image) which exist in the Egyptian blogs have a great role and effect.
Many media outlets depend on pictures and video posts derived from blogs to cover their news.
Also a lot of people in Egypt have never known that there were demonstrations, protests, or any attacks taking place in their country until they saw the pictures in different blogs, or afterwards posted in other media outlets.
While Mohamed Gamal, an Egyptian blogger, says, “The experience of having blogs in which youth write whatever they like is undoubtedly a successful experience, it has shown new ways in which people can express themselves and their different opinions.
Blogging has a great effect, as it shows some hidden skills and&nbs p;capabilities of the Egyptian youth.

It also gives more chance for demonstrating and exchanging opinions and judgements among people.
He also says that there are many bloggers who have succeeded to be popular and affect people with their own style and opinions.
Great creativity has been clear in some blogs, real literary and journalistic skills are being used daily in blogs.

 “But”, says Mohamed, “The problem is that there is a great number of bloggers, and that’s a good thing. But you can’t distinguish between the real blogger and those spreading wrong beliefs and news, or even propagating rumors…
I mean, there are no boundaries or standards to stop people from writing, and it could cause a big mess if people believed someone who was having false news.” Adding, “ You can find someone from the NDP writing something, and you’ll never know whether it’s correct or not, should we or should we not believe it?! I don’t mean that the NDP members are bad or anything..
I just mean they represent a certain belief and attitude, and they don’t have to be correct always or have real credibility in their news.”
About his evaluation on the blogs’ effect on Political issues, he believes that “(There is no effect at all for any political blog). Many persons tackle political issues in their own blogs, but only “a few” have the real credibility, and have the analytic vision and ability to seriously criticize political issues”. 
What Mohamed Gamal likes about the bloggers of the Muslim Brotherhood is that most of them are having nearly the same news, but with different visions, attitudes, and comments.
They are also “as if they are moving together in the same direction”, he says.
He believes that in 3 or 4 years, blogging in Egypt will be nearly exclusive for Muslim Brotherhood youth, as they are the most effective.
Ibrahim Al-Hodeiby, one of the famous bloggers and a Muslim Brotherhood member, comments on the experience of writing blogs in Egypt saying that “The experience of writing blogs in Egypt, especially among the Egyptian youth, is still in cradle.
They still have a lot of things to do and their success can’t be clearly measured nowadays; Yet, it is a very important experience.
People now can express themselves more freely, they are able to express their feelings, beliefs, concerns, and discuss any issue they want “in public.” He adds, “Most of the successful blogs in Egypt are discussing political issues and cases.

They have a political characteristic in general. Even those who aren’t related to any political party or group express their views on political issues now on blogs. Many of them have proven that they have an ideology and a vision towards such cases.”
When asking “Ibrahim Al-Hodeiby” about the blogs and its effect on politics in Egypt, he says, “I believe that blogs create and have their own world, a world separated from the real world. Blogs will have more effect through time; This will happen when blogs and real life become attached together, when people can relate both of them together, when blogs and bloggers exist more in real life.
I mean it would be a strange thing when you find one of the bloggers always tackling important political issues and discussing the importance of expressing your opinions and point of view freely, then you find “that same person” not participating in elections or in any other case in the real life.  Here is the puzzling question, Will blogs continue to have their own remote world, or will they re-attach themselves to cases and affairs that more concern the society?
This wide gap between blogs and real life should be reduced by time in order to succeed in the experience of blogging in Egypt.
Ibrahim says that the best thing he liked in the blogs of the Muslim Brotherhood youth was that they expressed themselves freely.
Many have talked about their own feelings, thoughts, and wishes.
He adds, “What I really liked most in their blogs was that they didn’t talk as a whole, or as a spokesman for a certain party.
Their blogs are more subjective and personal. They show their identity and personality in which they express everything.
Many of the Muslim Brotherhood youth blogs are discussing and criticizing military tribunals, and their blogs show the passionate human side of them personally. This is a very good thing in my opinion.”
“What is very worrying is that the MB blogs “in the future” would abate and decline, as most of them would only represent the Muslim Brotherhood beliefs and views, and discuss the group’s policy, steadfastness, resistance, and different statements of their leaders.
If that’s what happened, these blogs would only act as another spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood group, and accordingly, these blogs wouldn’t be able to affect anyone…
We don’t want this to happen.”
(Can we consider blogs influential source of media?) Ibrahim replies that question saying that blogs have a very important role, particularly under the existing circumstances of the media siege, on the Muslim Brotherhood cases and on the opposition movements in general. Blogs are “relatively” able to publish or criticize news and cases more freely.
At the end, Ibrahim Al-Hodeiby says that we should learn to express ourselves more simple and human. We should regard blogs as a different way to deal with reality, not to exclude it from real life.

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