Egypt: Mubarak giveth, Mubarak taketh away
|Wednesday, November 5,2008 03:32|
|By Turi Munthe & Demotix, Telegraph|
Censorship seem to work best when it"s not complete. Certainly, that"s exactly how Hosni Mubarak has kept power since 1981, and how his son Gamal intends to keep it.
[Wa"el Abbas (right) and Gamal "Eid, head of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information and the great blog-defender of the Middle East]
Hossam and Wa"el have both suffered from internet censorship. Hossam is right now querying why Flickr has taken down so many of his photos and videos. And Wa"el had a major spat with Youtube who closed his accounts and took down a number of videos of police brutality.
In Cairo, I met with three young members of the Muslim Brotherhood responsible for running Ikhwanweb and Ikhwan Tube (the Youtube of the Brotherhood). They told me what I"d already been told in Syria and Jordan – that the real victims of censorship and human rights abuse are predominantly Islamists.
[Abdulrahman Mansour and his two colleagues from Ikhwan Tube]
For the Mubarak regime it is a win-win. They rightly assume that the international community would care a lot less about conservative Muslim journalists/bloggers in jail than they would about secular liberal ones. And they were right. The only one we ever hear about is Kareem Soliman – who was locked up as a sop to the Muslim Brotherhood (and all their boys in jail) for blogging (bravely) against Islam.
[Shahinaz Abdel Salam - the face of Wa7da Masrya, one of Egypt"s most popular blogs]
What has been interesting is the growing solidarity between these once-opposing teams. My Ikhwan connections on Facebook are all friends with my secular blogger links. And there"s a reason for it – as the Islamists learnt from their secular counterparts just what blogging and citizen journalism could do for their cause, as they learnt how important the right to free speech was for them, so their respect for it has grown. At least, that"s what Abdulrahman al-Mansour and his two friends from Ikhwan Tube told me. And the fantastic (and secular) Shahinaz Abdel Salam, with whom I was having coffee when they walked in, suggested the same.