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Egypt: The viral vlog of Asmaa Mahfouz that helped spark an uprising

Video Link. 26-year-old Asmaa Mahfouz of Egypt recorded this video on January 18th, uploaded it to YouTube, and shared it on her Facebook. Within days, the video went viral within Egypt and beyond.

"Whoever says women shouldn't go to the protests because they will get beaten, let him have some honor and manhood and come with me on January 25th" she says in the video, "They don't even have to go to Tahrir Square, just go anywhere and say it: that we are free human beings."

And she condemns the couch potatoes and armchair internet activists, in no uncertain terms.

"Sitting home and just following us on news or on Facebook leads to our humiliation -- it leads to my humiliation!," she says in the video.

"If you have honor and dignity as a man, come and protect me, and other girls in the protest. if you stay home, you deserve what's being done to you, and you will be guilty before your nation and your people. Go down to the street, send SMSes, post it on the internet, make people aware."

The video is popularly credited with helping inspire fellow Egyptians by the thousands to participate in protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, calling for an end of the 30-year authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak. The video is also credited with helping to inspire the Egyptian government to block Facebook. Whether it's accurate to credit this one video, and this one young woman, with all of that, I'll leave to activists in Egypt who know the history better than I. But at the very least, her powerful video captures the spirit of an important moment in history.

Read the rest

Egypt: Mubarak speech sounds like a plan for one more crackdown

Spencer Ackerman at Wired News on Mubarak's speech just now in Cairo: "That sounds like an invitation for a crackdown. Although there has been some rioting, the protests have been largely peaceful. One protester in Cairo today even told Al Jazeera that her friends are starting a soccer tournament in the packed Tahrir Square. But if the police still consider Mubarak's instructions to have the force of law, those protesters may soon be under assault if they don't disperse. Will the Army defend the protesters against the police, after saying earlier that soldiers won't open fire on civilians?"

Egypt report from Human Rights Watch: "Impunity for Torture Fuels Days of Rage"


A report released by Human Rights Watch documents how Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government effectively condones police abuse by failing to ensure that law enforcement officers who are accused of torture are investigated and criminally prosecuted. HRW describes torture as "an endemic problem in Egypt." According to HRW, ending police abuse—and the cycle of impunity for those crimes—is a driving element behind the massive popular demonstrations in Egypt this past week. Snip from introduction:

'Work on Him Until He Confesses': Impunity for Torture in Egypt," documents how President Hosni Mubarak's government implicitly condones police abuse by failing to ensure that law enforcement officials accused of torture are investigated and criminally prosecuted, leaving victims without a remedy.

"Egyptians deserve a clean break from the incredibly entrenched practice of torture," said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch. "The Egyptian government's foul record on this issue is a huge part of what is still bringing crowds onto the streets today."

The case of Khaled Said, a 28-year-old man beaten to death by two undercover police officers on an Alexandria street in June, dominated headlines and set off demonstrations across the country. The local prosecutor initially closed an investigation and ordered Said's burial, but escalating public protests prompted the Public Prosecutor to reopen the investigation and refer it to court. "We Are All Khaled Said" is the name of the Facebook group that helped initiate the mass demonstrations on January 25, 2011.

[ Warning: disturbing content. The report contains graphic descriptions of torture. ]

Overview: Egypt: Impunity for Torture Fuels Days of Rage

Report (95 pages): "Work on Him Until He Confesses": Impunity for Torture in Egypt.The report is offered in in English and Arabic, English version of PDF here.

(via @ioerror)

Update: Following Egypt events live on Twitter, video, liveblogs

[Video Link] Waseem Wagdi, an Egyptian living in London talks about recent events in Egypt during a protest outside the Egyptian Embassy, London.

A reminder of online resources for Boing Boing readers who are following the significant and fast-moving events in Egypt today. I'm keeping several browser tabs open for these three liveblogs: The Guardian, Al Jazeera English, and New York Times.

Here are three helpful Twitter lists, some of which focus on people reporting on the ground in Egypt, others also include smart analytical voices currently based elsewhere: New York Times, NPR, and Washington Post.

Al Jazeera English is kicking all other US-language TV news networks' asses on coverage of this event. AJE is not available on most US cable networks, but you can ask your provider to carry it here. The network's bureau in Cairo was shut down earlier today, but their coverage of Egypt events continues. You can watch the Al Jazeera live stream online, though I've found that to be very unstable and crashy, especially during peak traffic moments. I'm hearing good things about this Livestation mobile app. AJE's YouTube channel is here, frequently updated.

"55% of our Al Jazeera English web traffic is from the US and Canada tonight," says Al Jazeera's Mohamed Nanabhay just now.

Additional resources welcome in the comments.

Egypt: 8-year-old girl lectures Mubarak (video)

Video Link. "And by the way, some of your police officers removed their jackets and they're joining the people." Juju, who is 8, and from Saudi Arabia. (via Ahmed Al Omran)

Letter from fmr. US Deputy CTO to Egypt's IT Minister who shut off Internet

"Egypt's Cabinet has just submitted its resignation, and a new Prime Minister has been appointed. As Egypt's Minister of Communications and Information Technology since 2004, you are now most likely heading back to private life. As a friend, I write to urge you to take one final action before you walk out the door of your Ministry: Give the order to reconnect Egypt to the global Internet, and to drop all remaining blocks on wireless networks."—Andrew McLaughlin, in the Huffington Post. You can follow him on Twitter. (via Anil Dash)

Notes on the Egyptian internet, censorship resistance, and Tor

Jacob Appelbaum, a developer with the Tor project, says, "I've written up a quick series of notes about the Egyptian internet, censorship resistance, and Tor." You can follow Jacob on Twitter.

Live From the Egyptian Revolution

"I grew up in Egypt. I spent half my life here. But Saturday, when my plane from JFK airport touched down in Cairo, I arrived in a different country than the one I had known all my life. This is not Hosni Mubarak's Egypt anymore and, regardless of what happens, it will never be again."—Sharif Kouddous, of "Democracy Now," writing in The Nation. You can follow him on Twitter.

Reports of damage, and civilians preventing damage, to Egyptian Museum antiquities


Marilyn Terrell of National Geographic points us to the photo above making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook today, and explains:

Citizens linking arms in front of the Egyptian Museum to prevent looters from entering. I found this photo on Twitter, posted by @theplayethic, who also tweeted, "Power memes in #Egypt. Reports of soldiers roaming damaged Cairo museum, armed criminals in suburbs."

Related, BB reader charlesj says,

Margaret Maitland, an Egyptology student at Oxford University, examines Al Jazeera video to assess what has been damaged during rioting at the Cairo Museum. She thinks the damaged objects include items from Tutankahmun's tomb.
Here's a link to Maitland's blog post. I see there's a similar report on MSNBC, with before/after photos of some of the same items.

And BB reader Jack points us to a related NPR report:

Would-be looters broke into Cairo's famed Egyptian Museum, ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging about 10 small artifacts before being caught and detained by soldiers, Egypt's antiquities chief [Zahi Hawass] said Saturday.


Egypt (video): Army intervenes to protect protesters from police

Video Link (via John Perry Barlow)

Egypt: The Twitter-less revolution

"[I]f protests on 25 January took place in the context of a veritable flood of information, yesterday's massive demonstrations happened in a literal vacuum. Suddenly dragged back to the land-line communications era, the protesters didn't know about Alexandria or Suez; they didn't even know what was happening across the river. It didn't matter. Protest organisers basically bypassed the idea of coordination altogether and just told people, Protest everywhere." (Index on Censorship, via @blakehounshell)

Internet Society statement on Egypt 'net shutdown

The Internet Society issues a statement on the Egyptian government's auto-unplugging: "Cutting off a nation's access to the Internet only serves to fuel dissent and does not address the underlying causes of dissatisfaction." Related update on that story today from Wired News: the state shut down the 'net with a series of phone calls.

Egypt: yet another iconic photo of a brave protester smooching a bewildered cop


Photo: A protester kisses a police officer during a demonstration in Cairo January 28, 2011. Police and demonstrators fought running battles on the streets of Cairo on Friday in a fourth day of unprecedented protests by tens of thousands of Egyptians demanding an end to Mubarak's three-decade rule. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

What a meme! Previously.

Egypt: iconic photo of protester kissing guard during demonstrations

This amazing photograph by Lefteris Pitarakis for AP is making the Twitter/Facebook/blog rounds today:

An Egyptian anti-government activist kisses a riot police officer following clashes in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 28, 2011. Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters poured into the streets of Egypt Friday, stoning and confronting police who fired back with rubber bullets and tear gas in the most violent and chaotic scenes yet in the challenge to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

Full size image here.

After Egypt, Tunisia unrest, Syria cranks up the 'net censorship

"Syrian authorities have banned programs that allow access to Facebook Chat from cellphones, tightening already severe restrictions on the Internet in the wake of the unrest in Tunisia, users said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

NYT: Wikileaks cables reveal details of US-Egypt diplomacy


US State Department cables leaked by Wikileaks, and analyzed today in the New York Times, show how the Obama administration avoided "public confrontations" with Hosni Mubarak over issues human rights.

Another cable, dated March 2009, offered a pessimistic analysis of the prospects for the "April 6 Movement," a Facebook-based group of mostly young Egyptians that has received wide attention for its lively political debate and helped mobilize the protests that have swept Egypt in the last two days. Leaders of the group had been jailed and tortured by the police. There were also signs of internal divisions between secular and Islamist factions, it said.

The United States has defended bloggers with little success. When Ambassador Scobey raised several arrests with the interior minister, he replied that Egypt did not infringe on freedom of the press, but that it must respond when "people are offended by blogs." An aide to the minister told the ambassador that The New York Times, which has reported on the treatment of bloggers in Egypt, was "exaggerating the blogger issue," according to the cable.

American diplomats also cast a wide net to gather information on police brutality, the cables show. Through contacts with human rights lawyers, the embassy follows numerous cases, and raised some with the Interior Ministry. Among the most harrowing, according to a cable, was the treatment of several members of a Hezbollah cell detained by the police in late 2008.

Lawyers representing the men said they were subjected to electric shocks and sleep deprivation, which reduced them to a "zombie state." They said the torture was more severe than what they normally witnessed.

Cables Show Delicate U.S. Dealings With Egypt's Leaders (NYT, via Jim Roberts)

(PHOTO: A protester displays a message on a placard of the Egyptian flag during a demonstration outside the press syndicate in central Cairo January 27, 2011. Demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, in power since 1981, have raged since Tuesday in several Egyptian cities, with the biggest clashes in Cairo and Suez. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

What is happening in Egypt, explained

Fatimah at the blog Promoting Peace has a helpful post up: a primer on what is happening in Egypt, and why.