Sunday, July 24, 2005

Egyptian Bloggers Protest Against Terrorism

The blog world strikes again. Egyptian bloggers, both in Egypt and outside, were talking about the bombings in Sharm al Sheikh. Suddenly, almost simultaneously, blogs around the blogworld started talking about protesting against terrorism. Then there were comments and cross posting, IM messages and cell phone calls.

Sandmonkey posted Sunday morning:

I am no fan of heroics nor am I exceptionally brave, but I feel the need to do this. We might all fear evil men who do such evil acts, but there is another evil that we should fear most, and that’s the indifference of good people to evil. We bitch and moan about the tarnished image of Islam and Arabs all over the world and how those bastards who do those things place a stigma on all of us, but we never do anything about it. Well, this is our chance! This is our opportunity to separate us from them. To show the world that we are not like those people, that our religion is not a religion that glorifies death, that such actions disgust and repulse us too. And this does not only apply to Muslims, this is the duty of every peace loving Egyptian to show those bastards that want to isolate us from the world that we all, Christians and Muslims, stand together in condemning these acts.

This was no mean feat. Spontaneous protests in Egypt don't take place without a lot of foot work before hand. Permits, contacts, places to meet and people that will join in and not be afraid of being arrested or harrassed by the police. Even peaceful protests without a political message are feared by the police and government as possible instigators to anti-government riots.

There were many stops and starts.

So this morning I woke up with a number of objectives in mind:

1) Try to rally up support for the protest amongst the Egyptian bloggers
2) Try to get the security clearance problem all worked out.
3) figure out how exactly to make this thing work.

The first was the easiest, and also the greatest disappointment: I wrote what I thought was a "rallying" post and then sent it by e-mail to every single Egyptian blogger I knew or could fine. I figured some of them might actually show some patriotism and show up. The only person that actually replied to me was Mohamed , and me and him kept e-mailing each other back and forth and it seemed that he will show up. I figured as the day went by more people may contact me or say something. They didn't. The Egyptian blogosphere is almost as apathetic as the Egyptian public : Big on words, small on action. Actually when I think about it, that's the problem of our country as a whole. Big Pharaoh proved that too when he called the Hezb el Ghad and Youth for change people and was informed that "such a protest wasn't on their current agenda, since it may benefit Mubarak politically". Weasels. Anyway..[snip]

I spent the majority of the day following up with Najla, who didn't spare any efforts on her part to try and to get us this permit. Our efforts were met with failure every time. And just when I was about to write the whole thing off and while all of this is happening, I end up talking to Dee who received this e-mail regarding the protest and-get this – apparently knew Karim's brother. You know what? For a country of 70 million people, Egypt is freakin tiny. Anyway…

Still, the protestest went on.

So the rest of the squad shows up and we start taking out position on the bridge. We chose a spot that has the Nile in the backdrop. Karim called from the States asking what's going on and I informed him we were taking positions, so he wished us good luck, and informed us he had another friend coming. We then started holding the banners in the view of the incoming and outgoing traffic. People's response was mostly the same: Astonished at first that something like this was happening, and then they showed their support by either honking or giving us the thumbs up. We were getting so many thumbs up I was loving it. The people were with us. Just as I knew they would be.

Read the whole story here.

Also, Big Pharoah in Egypt has his take.

Well, carrying and displaying the "No to Terrorism" sign made me feel soooo good. At last I did something. I felt as if I was poking my finger into the eyes of an ugly terrorist.[snip]

Anyway, the experience was worth it. And I have to admit that the policemen were themselves very supportive. They just followed the usual rule of Egypt's police force: do not allow anything to disrupt the peace no matter how good or bad it is. I just don't understand the logic behind this rule. Why would we allow only the terrorists to be the ones who "disrupt the peace"?

As a famous blogger is want to say, "Indeed."


What's depressing is how little attention these demonstrations got from the media (you'll notice that most of the links above are to blog reports, not news stories). If any of these groups had blown something up -- or even just burned President Bush in effigy -- they probably would have made the evening news. But when Arabs and Muslims defy news-media typecasting, they seem to be ignored.

-Glenn Reynolds


Leap Frog said...

Hi Kat!

I am still reading the links from many blogs now linking to this 'event'. Wow simply amazing the power of blogs, eh? MSM here is calling it 'the Protest for Peace in Egypt'. Not sure if the two protests are linked directly or not, but the effect is the same. People are fed up with being bombed and are protesting in Egypt... makes me smile. And Thanks Kat, I know you had a hand in this as well!

Asher - Dreams Into Lightning said...

Hi Kat!

Thanks for posting on this.

"such a protest wasn't on their current agenda, since it may benefit Mubarak politically" Sounds familiar!

I like the idea of a worldwide, co-ordinated demo.

Hey, BTW, drop by and meet us at you-know-where.