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Latest update : 2011-01-30

Egyptians are finding ways to bypass the web censorship in the country

Egyptians are finding ways to bypass the web censorship in the country. Tunisian women are also hoping to benefit from the revolution. And the US army publishes a social media handbook for soldiers.

Web censorship in Egypt   

The situation in Egypt remains extremely tense and anti-regime mobilization is showing no signs of weakening despite the authorities tightening of web censorship which Egyptian citizens are learning how to bypass. 

Numerous web users claim that after Twitter, it is now Facebook that is being blocked in Egypt. The situation has prompted many citizens to use proxy servers in order to connect to social networks and continue commenting on events in Egypt despite the censorship. And technophiles are also being asked to send SMS to friends and family, explaining how to get round these web censorship measures.

SMS are now being used to convey the nation’s anger and are being highly instrumental in mobilizing protestors. This web user reminds us that in Tunisia, demonstrations were mainly organized via these telephone messages and not so much on Facebook. He thinks blocking the social network will not stop the Egyptian people from protesting against the government. 

And citizens are defying the government’s ban on protests. As we see in these images filmed on Wednesday the 26th of January in the Cairo subway, hundreds of protestors gathered to demand greater freedom and justice, bringing public transport to a standstill. 

Anonymous reiterated its support to the Egyptian people in this video circulating online since Wednesday: it resembles a veritable declaration of war against the Egyptian authorities. The cyber activists promise they will continue supporting the protest movement until Egypt stops censoring the web and other forms of media. 

And the US Ambassador to Egypt has also decided to take a stand. On her web site Margaret Scobey has posted a document, written in Arabic and English, asking the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful public demonstrations. 

Women and the Tunisian revolution 

« it is essential that the reform guarantees equal rights for Tunisian women » This is the main demand in this petition launched online this week. Artists, public servants and also students are addressing the Tunisian authorities and demanding they include in the constitution what they consider to be a fundamental principle: equal rights for men and women in all domains. They feel that if this can happen then the revolution would have been entirely successful.

On slate.fr Jacques Benillouche says this petition comes at a time when the political context is threatening to weaken women’s conditions in Tunisia. This independent journalist explains that Islamists could try and profit from the situation by imposing retrograde laws: religious extremists who would not hesitate in presenting emancipation of women as a legacy of Ben Ali’s regime to convince citizens to question this development.

In view of this threat, some women have decided to campaign for their rights. As was the case for the revolution, the mobilization is taking place on social networks and on Facebook in particular, where several groups like these ones have been set up so that Tunisian woman can continue to live in freedom.

Samira Kessis, who is writing on nawaat.org an independent collective blog which was highly active during the revolution, also hopes this freedom will be preserved. But she does not feel the immediate threat on women’s conditions in Tunisia comes from Islamism, she thinks it’s more the prevailing male chauvinism: an attitude that damages equality between men and women and in the blogger’s opinion needs to change.

US army social media handbook 

A handbook for US soldiers on how to use social networks: this document was posted online by the US army on the 20th January and encourages soldiers to be wary of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The manual notably encourages soldiers on military operations to only post very vague information online and not to mention their rank or the equipment they are using. The army is also mindful of geolocation software and is asking troops to deactivate GPS functions from smartphones. This is all information that could be used by enemies of the US to attack American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The walls of shame 

In web documentary « les murs de la honte » meaning "the walls of shame", French film maker Thierry Denis looks at different walls across the globe which in his opinion, are no longer built to stop people leaving like in Berlin, but to forbid people from entering such and such a country. The documentary takes web users to Mexico, Israel and to Europe, and meets the people who live near these walls, both their victims and their promoters.

Video of the day 

 Compose a piece of music with only daily household objects as instruments. This was what Mateusz Zdziebko set out do and you can see his work in this video called “Sampled Room”. The artist used, amongst other objects, sticky paper, a camera and also a hair dryer to create this original tune.

By Electron Libre

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