There's an interesting article from the Christian Science Monitor entitled Egypt's growing blogger community pushes limit of dissent
. The article details the growth of blogs as a tool for opposition to the government not only in Egypt but those countries in the Middle East that suppress free speech and control the media.
Mr. Fattah, just 23, is one of Egypt's leading bloggers, part of an online community that acts as a virtual megaphone for Egypt's burgeoning opposition movement. Other countries in the Middle East have started cracking down on the Internet, arresting bloggers and imposing strict censorship regimes.
As bloggers gain clout in Cairo, observers say it is only a matter of time before Egypt follows suit.
At a recent demonstration in Cairo's Opera Square against the 25-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak, activists distributed placards that read "Freedom Now" and "No to Oppression." Fattah, on the other hand, passed out lists of websites to a dozen or so local bloggers who act as an unofficial media outlet for Egypt's disparate opposition.
This is perhaps one of my favorite quotes from the article, echoing the sentiment here at DailyKos and other blogs:
You just can't rely on the mainstream media here," he [an Egyptian blogger] says.
The article goes on to describe how bloggers in the Middle East have made use of their blogs to protest and attempt to achieve their political goals.
The number of blogs worldwide has doubled in the past five months, and a new blog is created every second, according to a recent report by the blog-watchers Technorati. The Middle East is witnessing its share of that growth.
Many Arab bloggers are tackling sensitive political and human rights issues rarely broached by the state-controlled media. They are proving to be a powerful source of information, capable of reaching a few hundred like-minded activists, or of rallying international attention to a cherished cause.
After government supporters attacked and beat protesters in late May, Egypt's blogging community led the effort to publicize what had happened.
"I had never heard the word blogger until May 25," says Rabab al-Mahdi, a political science professor at the American University in Cairo, and an opposition activist. "But now I know them well because of all the amazing coverage they had of the protests. My friends overseas all followed what happened through the blogs, because they have more credibility than the mainstream media."
Activists in Egypt rely on blogs like Fattah's to find out the time and place of future demonstrations, to learn who has been arrested and where they have been taken, and to debate the effectiveness of opposition strategies. In short order, Egypt's bloggers have become a political force, capable of more than merely commenting from the sidelines.
And from Iran:
In 2001, Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian emigrant to Canada, published directions on how to make a blog in the Farsi language. Seven months later there were 1,200 blogs in Iran.
Today, there are an estimated 75,000 to 100,000 Iranians blogging, including former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi. During the 2003 student uprisings in Iran, Internet blogs and chat rooms allowed students to mobilize, organize, and communicate with one another, free of prying government eyes.
Iran has since adopted "one of the world's most substantial Internet censorship regimes," according to the Open Net Initiative, a partnership of researchers from Harvard, Cambridge University, and the University of Toronto.
Read the entire CSM article here