Internet Shut Down Amid Egypt Protests; Social Outcry Strengthens

Activist Post

Clashes between protesters and authorities in the world’s most populous Arab nation have reached even higher levels with reports that the servers of Egypt’s main Internet provider were down.

This Internet restriction seems to be in response to the massive growth of social networking and the direct impact it has had on mobilization against “a regime that is not listening, is not acting,” according to opposition leader, and Nobel Peace laureate, Mohamed ElBaradei.

Friday is set to intensify as a groundswell of support for social change has been charted by social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook, which showed exponentially increased traffic before revealing a sharp decrease that indicated the cutoff.

Social networking has been embraced by a populace seeking solidarity, but appears to have been targeted for restriction by a government attempting to silence a rising voice of change.  Government officials have expressed an interest in talking to the “youths” that they believe are leading the demonstrations.  However, U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden, characterized the demonstrators as, “the people out there protesting are middle class folks who are looking for a little more access, a little more opportunity.”

Some protesters were taken to military camps and have reported mistreatment, but this does not seem to be working to intimidate the overall movement.  The recent uprisings in Tunisia that ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali seem to have galvanized the region.

“The barrier of fear is broken,” ElBaradei said after he arrived in Egypt from Europe on Thursday. “And it will not come back.”

The Egyptian government has been implicated in secret arrests, public beatings by security forces, and torture of dissidents, hallmarks of a totalitarian regime.  There seems to be a real possibility that the psychological removal of fear communicated through social networks will lead toward a new era of social justice.

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