Tunisian Blogger Turned Minister on Egypt’s Revolution
Internet, Face Book, Twitter, On Line Petitions, have all come to play the role, at least part of the role, a revolutionary vanguard party was expected to play in the past, from Lenin to Mao, to Ho Chi Minh and Castro to Daniel Ortega. Today, the world is different. Today the Rulers themselves play a different ball game. Often opposition parties are not prepared to go the whole hog. Now its a new generation and a new technology that has come to be discussed as “people mobilising” factors.
This is partly about that. At least this can be read that way.
Here is part of a conversation between two Arab bloggers on the Web site “Global Voices”. Slim Amamou, a former Tunisian dissident who is now the minister of youth and sports in the transitional government in Tunisia following the uprising there, and Hisham, a Moroccan doctor who lives in France.
Hisham: You’ve been following the extraordinary events in Egypt. What reading do you make of the Egyptian revolution? Can you compare both the Tunisian and the Egyptian uprisings: what’s their common denominator (if any)?
Slim Amamou: They are both one uprising. One World, One Revolution 🙂 Often people think of it in terms of “contagion” or something. But in reality we’ve been ready, we, people of the internetz, for a revolution to start in any part of the Arab world. We’ve been supporting each other and trying hard since long time, and you know how important Internet was for the revolution. Egyptians actively supported the Tunisian Revolution as any Tunisian national did: they launched DDoS attacks, they’ve been demonstrating for Sidi Bouzid, they shared information, they provided technical support… etc. And now Tunisians are doing the same for Egyptians. It’s really a new citizenship. Egyptians are de facto Tunisian citizens.
Hisham: Do you think the revolution in Tunisia, and now in Egypt, will spread across the Arab world?
Slim Amamou: It is already spreading, or more precisely it’s already there. My only worry is Internet control. I’ve been fighting here in Tunisia against censorship because I knew that infrastructure is the key for change. In some parts of the Arab world Internet access is maybe still not enough developed to be a lever for change. So maybe it’s just not the right time, and maybe it’s more effective to focus on having internet infrastructure ready and free right now.
Hisham: Some say the Internet was a catalyst, others contend it has played only a marginal role in the uprising. Do you think, had the events of Sidi Bouzid or Cairo happened, say, in the 80s, when the Internet was not available yet, it would have achieved the tremendous rallying we’ve witnessed?
Slim Amamou: You don’t have to go back to the 80s. In 2008, there were uprisings in Redeyef, similar to what happened in Sidi Bouzid. But back then it seems that the internet community did not reach a critical mass. And then at that time, Facebook got censored for a week or two. I don’t remember if it was related. But it was like a training for this revolution. People think that this revolution happened out of nowhere but we, on the Internet have been trying for years, together and all over the Arab world. The last campaign that mobilized people was for Khaled Said in Egypt, and we Tunisians participated. And you have to remember that Egyptians (and people all over the world) participated in the Tunisian revolution: they informed, they participated in Anonymous attacks and they even were the first to demonstrate for Sidi Bouzid in Cairo.
So, yes, Internet was very important.