Jerry Jackson

Posts Tagged ‘Hosni Mubarak’

Internet Restricted in Bahrain as Protest Escalates

In Activism, Internet Censorship, Society, World News on February 23, 2011 at 3:26 am

As protests continue in Bahrain, data suggests that access to many websites has been restricted there.

Arbor Networks, a security research company that tracks Internet traffic, told The New York Times on Friday that traffic into and out of Bahrain has dropped between 10% and 20% below expected levels. Traffic normally only drops that low during natural disasters or global sporting events.

The graph below shows Bahrain’s Internet traffic levels this week compared to average traffic levels during the previous three weeks. The traffic this week has been significantly lower than usual. Arbor Networks told The Times that it couldn’t absolutely rule out technical difficulties as a cause for the drop, though the most likely cause was blocked websites.

A Harvard University website that crowdsources reports of inaccessible webpages shows that many sites, including bahrainonline.org and bahrainrights.org, have been reported to be inaccessible. But almost all of the reports were made before the protests in Bahrain started.

Last month, Egypt blocked websites like Twitter and Facebook in response to unrest before blocking the Internet altogether (See that graph here). The success that Egyptian protesters had in ousting former president Hosni Mubarak despite these drastic digital measures is often cited as enhancing the confidence of protesters in Bahrain, Algeria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

While data suggests that Bahrain is restricting the Internet in response to unrest in the same way Egypt did, Arbor Network’s Internet traffic data shows nothing out of the ordinary in Algeria’s Internet traffic (at least between February 10 and 13).

Internet Censorship in Bahrain.

Internet Censorship in Bahrain

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From #Jan25 to Tahrir: What Comes Next for the Internet Revolution?

In Activism, Egypt, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, World News on February 15, 2011 at 10:20 am


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Guest author Ahmed Zidan lives in Egypt and is the editor of Mideast Youth. The Egyptian protesters have overthrown Mubarak after nearly 30 years. Egypt has come second in row after Tunisia. The two revolutions, the Tunisian and the Egyptian, have succeeded. Egypt has seen its first people's revolution, and over 18 days many things changed until the regime was totally uninstalled.

Guest author Ahmed Zidan lives in Egypt and is the editor of Mideast Youth. The Egyptian protesters have overthrown Mubarak after nearly 30 years. Egypt has come second in row after Tunisia. The two revolutions, the Tunisian and the Egyptian, have succeeded. Egypt has seen its first people's revolution, and over 18 days many things changed until the regime was totally uninstalled.

Let’s trace the protests back across the Mediterranean. The self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid was the spark for the massive Tunisian protests that overthrew then-president Ben Ali. The Tunisian protests, in turn, were the spark for Egypt’s #Jan25. And it’s very relevant to name it #Jan25, because it was totally Internet driven. (Other names include the Jan. 25 Revolution, Revolution of Anger, and lately Tahrir Revolution, an Arabic equivalent for Revolution of Liberation.) It’s not an overstatement to say that #SidiBouzid is the sole parent of #Jan25, and created a domino effect that will not stop in Egypt.

This is the first organized revolution of its kind in the history of mankind. It began with a Facebook page We Are All Khaled Said that called for this uprising. The social media tools were very critical in sparking these protests; the Internet is unmistakably the origin of the Egyptian protests. And once it broke loose, the Internet proved to be a very important tool for sharing news about the different demonstrations around Egypt.


However, momentum was already building and the Egyptians already knew their route to the streets. That’s why when the Internet was blocked around the country in the early hours of Jan. 28, as well as a total blackout on all mobile networks, it never affected the ongoing protests and actually backfired on the government: netizens marched into the streets instead of checking Twitter trends online.

#jan25

#jan25

The freedom of the Internet is a major headache for totalitarian regimes around the world, and that’s why they all emulate the same violations against freedom of expression. By and large, it would be very fair to name the Egyptian Revolt as the first Internet Revolution of the era.


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Hosni Mubarak and his family were convinced everything they did was for the good of Egypt and never understood that it was time for them to leave.

In Activism, Egypt, Human Rights on February 15, 2011 at 1:47 am

SHARM EL SHEIKH/EGYPT, 18MAY08 - Muhammad Hosn...

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The night before he finally stepped down as Egypt‘s president, the protesters in Tahrir Square heard Hosni Mubarak deliver his final address as their head of state. “A speech from a father to his sons and daughters,” he called it, and like many of his orations in the past, it was filled with lies, although he may have believed some of these himself. He would stay as president until September, he promised, because the country needed him for a transition to democracy. This, after three decades of autocracy. The hundreds of thousands gathered in the square wanted to hear him say only one word: “Goodbye.” Amid their screams of fury, one woman could be heard shouting into a phone, “People are sick of the soap opera!”  The protesters had reason to be weary of the president’s final, delusional public performance. But there was another long drama coming to an end that night, mostly out of public view—a personal story that helps to explain the president whose stubborn incomprehension of his “sons and daughters” dragged Egypt so close to ruin. Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Daniel Kurtzer has called it the “tragedy” of the Mubaraks. As Kurtzer says of the Egyptian president, “He really did feel he was the only one holding the dike”—as if beyond Mubarak lay the deluge. Mubarak’s fall is not a story like the one that unfolded in Tunisia, of a dictator and his kin trying to take their country for all it was worth. Although there have been widely reported but poorly substantiated allegations of a $40 billion to $70 billion fortune amassed by the Mubarak family, few diplomats in Egypt find those tales even remotely credible. “Compared to other kleptocracies, I don’t think the Mubaraks rank all that high,” says one Western envoy in Cairo, asking not to be named on a subject that remains highly sensitive. “There has been corruption, [but] as far as I know it’s never been personally attached to the president and Mrs. Mubarak. They don’t live an elaborate lifestyle.” Despite the uprising of millions of people in Egypt’s streets, despite their ringing condemnations of secret-police tactics and torture, the Mubarak family remained convinced that everything the president had done was for the country’s own good. “We’re gone. We’re leaving,” the deeply depressed first lady, Suzanne Mubarak, told one of her confidantes as the crisis worsened last week. “We’ve done our best.”


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Egyptian youth and new dawn hopes

In Activism, Egypt, Human Rights, Military, World News on February 6, 2011 at 7:25 am

For young Egyptians, long-dormant patriotism and pride have been finally awakened.

As police stations and ministry of interior installations continue to burn through the night in many of Egypt’s cities, the Arab World is waking up to a new dawn.  In more than 18 years of living in Cairo, I have never felt the sense of cautious hope that exists in Egypt now, particularly among young men and women who feel that for the first time in their lives they may actually be able to determine their own destinies. 

Egypt

For young Egyptians, long-dormant patriotism and pride have been finally awakened.

Young Egyptians that say that despite the number of teargas canisters fired at protesters and the number of those who have been beaten and detained, long-dormant patriotism and pride have been finally awakened. They feel emboldened by the positive changes in Tunisia and believe they share common cause and aspiration. Many of the students I teach at the American University in Cairo have taken part in the protests, avoiding tear gas, seeking refuge in shops and alleyways. They have been reporting and participating in the protests. Some have been beaten only to return the next day and face off with riot police. To them, they have known no other president, no other ruling party and no other political system. They have for years been groomed on the government’s realpolitik on the one hand, and the   empty rhetoric of opposition groups on the other. They have made it clear to me that these opposition parties, long defunct and impotent, have been replaced by grassroots social action. Their fears of detention and torture have been supplanted by the need for better living conditions and better wages. The protests have drawn Egyptians from all walks of life, many of whom have never participated in demonstrations and feel that the time has come for them to voice their resentment. What started with a few dozen protesters on January 25 quickly mushroomed as passers-by and ordinary citizens joined in. This was the Arab Street – the silent majority which has finally found a voice to express palpable anger. Listening to the protesters, one gets the feeling that they have not been deterred by the severity of the beatings; rather, their resolve has been hardened. In an unprecedented show of civil disobedience and open revolt, young Egyptians have clearly and forcibly delivered a message that is still resonating in the Middle East and North Africa: Authoritarian rule in the region is over. The common yet indigenous, denominators – political and economic disenfranchisement and disdain at rampant corruption – between the two countries were conveyed through social media networks, helping to create a momentum that seized popular anger and provided it with a dynamic that produced mass mobilisation on the streets of Tunis and Cairo. By calling for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, and persevering in the face of tear gas, water cannons and baton beatings, young Egyptian men and women have beat back decades of one-party rule, brutal repression against civil liberties, iron-clad control of the media, and corrupt economic policies. The protesters have been dismantling archaic forms of governance in which the ruler is considered to be beyond reproach and economic policies are determined by his self-preserving business elite allies. They are demanding equity in the distribution of wealth, an end to state corruption, greater employment opportunities and a curb to rampant inflation. They want to be able to express themselves freely – both in mainstream media and online – without the specter of arrest, torture and imprisonment looming overhead. Just three months ago, Egyptian authorities released Kareem Amer, a blogger jailed in 2007 for defaming Islam and the presidency. His release came just a few weeks after several stations were taken off the air by the national satellite carrier NileSat for allegedly failing to abide by their contracts and/or failure to pay licensing fees. They are not interested in a change of government – as Mubarak promised on January 28 – and they will not be dissuaded by repeated promises of economic reform and prosperity. They believe that Egypt’s current socio-economic malaise is rooted in the political system itself, a system which has not evolved since the first revolution overthrew the King of Egypt in 1952. When the ruling National Democratic Party swept Parliamentary elections amid allegations of widespread fraud last November, Egyptian youth said that they felt their votes had been stolen and the entire process of political reform hijacked. Some observers at the time warned that the government would likely suffer a backlash. The young protesters that we now see on the streets of Cairo, Ismailiya, Suez, Alexandria and Mahala want a political process that safeguards their democratic participation. Few in Egypt have a desire – or expectation – to see Gamal Mubarak, the president’s son, inherit the presidency in a contrived political gimmick to convince the public that there was a democratic transfer of power. Among my students, Copts and Muslims alike, there is a call for social cohesion. In the aftermath of the bombing at the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, many Egyptians blamed the government for failing to adequately protect minorities and allowing sectarian strife to fester. Now, the momentum – and history – is on the protesters’ side. Firas Al-Atraqchi is an associate professor of practice at department of journalism and mass communication at the American University in Cairo.

Clinton warns of ‘perfect storm’

In Activism, Egypt, Human Rights, World News on February 6, 2011 at 7:19 am

Hillary Rodham Clinton, January 2007

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US secretary of state says rulers in Middle East must enforce political and social reforms or face backlash.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has warned of a “perfect storm” enveloping the Middle East if leaders do not implement political and social reforms to meet the demands of their people.

Clinton was speaking on Saturday at a high-level security conference in Munich, where EU leaders have appeared divided in their response to events in Egypt.

The secretary of state urged European nations to join the US in pressing for broad political and economic reform in the Middle East.

She said half measures were “untenable” as they would only breed further discontent.

Some European leaders such as David Cameron, the British prime minister, have also called for a rapid transition in Egypt.

However, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor and Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, fear early elections in Egypt would not be helpful and say the immediate ousting of Hosni Mubarak, the president, could lead to a power vacuum.

‘Strategic necessity’

“The region is being battered by a perfect storm of powerful trends,” Clinton said.

“This is what has driven demonstrators into the streets of Tunis, Cairo, and cities throughout the region.”

Clinton said that Washington was backing Egypt’s drive to craft orderly reforms to allow democratic elections.

“It is important to support the transition process announced by the Egyptian government actually headed by now-vice president Omar Suleiman,” she said.

“The principles are very clear, the operational details are very challenging.”

The secretary of state urged leaders across the Middle East to embrace democratic reforms in response to the growing unrest in the region, despite the risk of short-term instability in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.

She said change is a “strategic necessity” that will make Arab nations stronger and their people more prosperous and less susceptible to extremist ideologies.

Addressing events in Egypt, Merkel said: “Early elections at the beginning of the democratisation process is probably the wrong approach.”

However, Cameron said a delay would produce an unstable country that the West would not welcome.

“There is no stability in Egypt. We need change, reform and transition to get stability,” he said at the conference.

Obama: Mubarak must listen

On Friday, Barack Obama, the US president, said Mubarak should “listen” to protesters calling for him to resign, but he stopped short of explicitly urging the Egyptian president to leave office immediately.

“He needs to listen to what is voiced by the people and make a judgement about a pathway forward that is orderly, that is meaningful and serious,” Obama said in carefully worded comments on Egypt’s political future.

Obama told reporters that in two conversations with Mubarak since mass protests against the Egyptian leader’s 30-year rule began 11 days ago he stressed the need for an orderly transition to democracy in the country, long a cornerstone of US Middle East strategy.

“Having made that psychological break, that decision that he will not be running again, I think the most important thing for him to ask himself … is how do we make that transition effective and lasting and legitimate,” Obama said.

“The key question he should be asking himself is: ‘how do I leave a legacy behind in which Egypt is able to get through this transformative period?’ And my hope is … that he will end up making the right decision.”

 

 

The ‘Italian Job’ and Other Highlights From U.S.’s Rendition Program With Egypt

In Activism, Human Rights, World News on February 3, 2011 at 12:28 pm

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Among the many aspects of the U.S.-Egypt relationship, few have been as controversial as the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, where the agency frequently handed over suspected terrorists to foreign governments with histories of torture and illegal detention. According to Human Rights Watch, Egyptwelcomed more CIA detainees than any other country from the 1990s through 2005. And while renditions happen only with the assurance that a foreign partner will not torture the prisoner, as one CIA officer once told Congress, the assurances “weren’t worth a bucket of warm spit.” (Want to know more about rendition? Here’s a good backgrounder.)

Abu Zaabal prison, 25 kms north of Cairo, after a mass breakout during the nationwide protest. (AFP/Getty Images file photo)

Abu Zaabal prison, 25 kms north of Cairo, after a mass breakout during the nationwide protest. (AFP/Getty Images file photo)

In the case of Egypt, the assurances were given by Omar Suleiman, former head of the country’s intelligence service, and the man President Hosni Mubarak picked as his vice president a few days ago.

Perhaps the most notorious case is that of Ibn al-Shaikh al-Libi, a Libyan national captured by Pakistani authorities in the months after the September 11, 2001 attacks. According to a 2006 Senate Intelligence Committee report, [PDF] al-Libi was turned over to American authorities and eventually sent to Egypt, where his fabricated testimony, given under torture, became a key piece of “evidence” falsely linking al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein.

According to the Senate report, al-Libi said he began to feed his captors false intelligence once American interrogators threatened to send him to a foreign government. He started talking, he said, but was sent to Egypt anyway. He later told the CIA that his Egyptian captors placed him in a box less than 2 feet square for 17 hours.

Then, “when he was let out of the box, al-Libi claims that he was given a last opportunity to ‘tell the truth.’ ” He was struck down, he said, and finally “was punched for 15 minutes.” In another episode, he says he was beaten in a way that wouldn’t leave any marks.

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As The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and others have detailed, the “intelligence” he provided made its way into the 2003 speech that Secretary of State Colin Powell gave to the United Nations, laying out the evidence to justify war with Iraq. Years later, after no weapons of mass destruction were found, al-Libi recanted.

“When the F.B.I. later asked him why he had lied, he blamed the brutality of the Egyptian intelligence service,” Mayer writes. “Libi explained, ‘They were killing me,’ and that, ‘I had to tell them something.’ ”

Another famous case is that of Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, an Egyptian cleric who disappeared for a year after he was snatched off the streets of Milan in 2003 and taken to Egypt. Known in the agency as “The Italian Job,” the operation was exposed when Italian prosecutors were able to reconstruct the kidnapping after Nasr was released. In 2009, an Italian court convicted 23 Americans in absentia for the kidnapping. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear America – Heavy machine gun fire in Egypt! Call White House Press Office now and demand change from Obama! 202-456-1414

In Activism, Human Rights, Wikileaks, World News on February 3, 2011 at 8:24 am

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

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Dear America – Heavy machine gun fire in Egypt! Call White House Press Office now and demand change from Obama! 202-456-1414
Fwd: RT @kaepora: Does heavy machine gun fire in Egypt imply a change in US foreign policy? Call White House Press Office now and ask! 202-456-1414 (via http://ff.im/xjbOk)

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Al Jazerra Media Source Reveals Information About Their Governments Attempts to Suppress The Media

In Activism, Human Rights, World News on February 3, 2011 at 12:40 am

February 02, 2011

Jerry Jackson

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Egypt

Al Jazeera may have been the only source of live coverage & comprehensive reporting on the protest in Egypt, the state government there is resorting to mew methods of diminishing the reach of the network’s broadcasts. According to a source, who is working in Cairo, the state- run television station has, for the past few nights, been conducting deliberately slanted man-on-the street interviews regarding media coverage of the massive attacks.


Little is known, however, about how the Al Jazeera staff has managed to stay operational with all the pressure coming from Egyptian authorities. The source at the station, who spoke anonymously out of fear for his own safety, described the personal concern he felt when he returned to the network’s Cairo office on Monday only to see that his colleagues had been detained. He emailed the following account of the events:


This afternoon, after I was coming back to file after spending the morning and midday day chasing the story of police deploying to Cairo’s streets, I called to check in and was told that they had found where we were and that we were continuing to broadcast, and that the detainment/arrests were happening at that very moment

I returned to the location (again, not going to say where) got out of my taxi, and coordinated with the other web producer on the ground here, who had just returned from reporting as well. I was told our team was outside on the street being guarded by some soldiers, and we determined that we would try to enter the building from another direction and avoid that situation.

As I walked along the street, I could see the team detained about 50 feet away. They were not handcuffed, no one was being mistreated or even touched for that matter, as far as I saw in those few seconds. I kept walking. The other web producer made it inside. I walked through a series of cramped side alleys (guys smoking shisha, cars inching through, goats, cows), made a big circle and got into the building as well. My colleague and I remained together in our room, coordinating with the other team members and with Doha headquarters to make sure we knew what was going on. Eventually, we determined we were safe, and not that much later, we got word that everyone had been released.



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