Today, Egypt has seen tremendous anti-Mubarak protests. In retaliation, the Egyptian government is doing what governments all-too-often do, blocking, cutting, filtering. Specifically, Twitter is blocked in Egypt.
These unprecedented protests centered on Cairo – massive in scope with as many as 100,000 participants – and the simultaneous use of Twitter as a communications tool, has resulted in #cairotrending. In a vain attempt to stop the protests by stopping the service used to report them, Mubarak’s government has blocked the use of the site.
Some are still Twittering inside the country via proxies and Tor. More seem to be using the “We are all Khaled Said” Facebook page. (Said was a young victim of police violence who was killed last year in Alexandria.)
“Tahrir square now. We own it now. Police can only watch from a distance.”
Twitter appears to have created an account to talk specifically about Egypt’s use of the tool, though it’s small beer indeed compared to what the Egyptians are doing on their own. No surprise there. Who’s most invested after all?
Mobile phone service, Internet access in general and news sites are reportedly, if sporadically, being interrupted or filtered.
Background, Ongoing Reports
The protests actually began, Foreign Policy reported, as a reaction against Police Day, “a much-unloved national holiday originally intended to honor cops in the city of Ismailia who stood against the British invasion of 1952. In recent years, it’s become a potent symbol of everything that’s wrong with Egypt under the rule of Hosni Mubarak.”
Ahmed Zidan, the editor of MideastYouth Arabic in Egypt, sent us a note in the midst of the events unfolding in Cairo.
“Protesters have used a new tactic, which is several separated groups of massive protesters across Cairo and other Egyptian provinces. This tactic has distracted the police forces.
Twitter was the main way of communication between all protesters, and it was only the main and most vital news update to everyone worldwide through #Jan25 and #Cairo hashtags. However, the Egyptian authorities have blocked it! The demos and its news didn’t stop to flood, but Twitter blockade has caused shortage of news, especially from inside the demos. Well, all the mobile and internet communications is totally blocked in Down Town area in Cairo, plus Twitter blockade across Egypt has affected the feeds of the protests, but from my POV, that will cause more riots, because the government has violated freedom of speech, just like Tunisia in the past. This will backfire at the government indeed.
The state driven oligopolistic, namely private, ISPs and mobile networks have shown their ugly faces by obeying the government’s orders! This is the worst scenario anyone can imagine.”
Zidan has published a timeline of events on MideastYouth
We will continue to keep an eye on the situation in Egypt, especially, though not solely, as it pertains to the technology being employed.
The protests have reportedly seen violence. The first death appears to be of a 20-year-old man from Suez named Mustafa Reda Mahmoud Abdelfattah.
Rumors have started that Mubarak’s son and family have fled Egypt. Unconfirmed.
Video is being steadily uploaded as the protests progress.
Multiple reports coming in that most Arab press are ignoring the protests. Confirm?
Second Suez victim, Suliman Saber Ali.
A policeman is said to have been killed in Cairo.
Protesters detained and transported to Cairo’s Al-Salam military jail.
Reports are coming in that protesters are expecting a block on Facebook soon.
Interior Minister Habib Al-Adly said to have instructed police to fire on protesters if they do not disperse.
Police have brought civilian thugs into Tahrir Square; also reportedly tear gassing protesters (excessive tear gas use can kill – seems excessive and people are reportedly fainting) and firing rubber bullets
Twitter confirms the Egypt block.