The Changing Face of Arab Blogs
Over the last few months, young Muslim Brotherhood members have begun blogging in force. This sudden, dramatic development may come as a surprise to western observers, who generally assume that blogging empowers liberal, pro-western voices. And it’s true that the first wave of Arab political blogging featured mostly westernized, relatively liberal voices writing in English – often brilliantly individual voices who made little claim to represent the broader political spectrum. Much coverage of the Arab blogosphere continues to focus on these voices….
But the Arab political blogosphere has changed. Over the last couple of years, a new wave of more politically engaged bloggers has emerged, often writing in Arabic and deeply connected to local political campaigns. The young Bahraini bloggers who denounce repression against human rights NGOs, or the young Egyptians using blogs to support the Kefaya movement and expose police brutality still fit a recognizably liberal story of popular empowerment. But the Egyptian Muslim Brothers using the same blogging platforms and the same campaign strategies to raise awareness of the imprisonment and mistreatment of their brethren do not…..
Still, the Brotherhood’s online activity has more in common with the secular political activists of the younger generation than with the older members of the Brotherhood. Today’s younger Muslim Brothers are trying to harness blogging technology to generate the kinds of solidarity, support and attention that Alaa Abd al-Fattah and Kareem have enjoyed
This is an interesting trend to watch since many may argue that the Muslim Brothers represent the broader Arab (or Muslim) opinion. When Ethan Zuckerman, a co-founder of Global Voices (GV) was in Doha last year one of the things we discussed was that the GV bloggers (while fantastic) were not neccessarily representative of the broader communities that they came from. My concern was that since they are mostly English speaking and affluent (at least affluent enough to use an internet cafe) and thus may not represent the same aspirations as the “Arab Street” (or South American Street or African Street…). Of course, the good folk at GV are aware of this and are currently looking to hire an Outreach Director to bring others into the conversation.
And now that the Muslim Brothers from Egypt are blogging, it would be interesting to see how much weight Global Voices (and other bloggers) give to these voices.