Politics of the Internet Blackout in Egypt

Posted: January 29, 2011 in Analysis, ICT, politics
Tags: , , , ,

Friday midnight, the Internet in Egypt went dark, while protests against the administration of Hosni Mubarrak rises. This cut off Egypt from the rest of the world and the world to Egypt, blinding connections between Egyptian opposition and the country’s general public among themselves. This is an outright political scheme to reduce if not squash the growing tension from the opposition.

Egyptian opposition is clamoring for Mubarrak to step down from his 30-year rule of the country. Egypt, one of the oldest civilization and most populated state in the Arab region, is faced with a radical movement for political change. News reports say that this started when Mubarrak held El-Barradai on house-arrest for alleged participation as spokesperson for the growing opposition.

El-Barradai is Mubarrak’s closest opponent for the post, which is being prepared for the latter’s son. Protesters, inspired by the Tunisian ouster of it 23-year authoritarian leader, have been using the Internet for their political cause. Egyptian decision to wipe out the Internet is reported to be more drastic than what the Tunisian and Iranian government did.

This affected business and trading, cutting off banks, telecommunications and other establishments that rely on the piped communication platform.  Satellite communications from foreign news agencies are also being blocked. Cameras from tourists are being confiscated. At present, Al Jazzeera is being monitored by government officials in their broadcasting buiding in Cairo.

While in some parts of the world is an effort to uphold the citizen’s right to information through the use of Internet, there remains countries that censor Internet use, that includes China and Turkmenistan, and those Iran and Tunisia. This political manipulation of Egypt’s government of its four Internet Service Providers is an outright demonstration of power over the people’s interest and basic freedom of expression.

With a government in the brink of its destruction from the people’s dissent, every means to keep its power and authority are justifiable. That is the Machiavellian principle applied in political practice. Democracy, that illusive state of liberty, will have to be drastically controlled in favor of the ruling administration to continue in power.

The dysfunctional government will use force to serve two purposes: one is to demonstrate its authority by creating fear among the public, another is using brutality to stir more unrest so that it can claim for more power to justify the imposition of military rule. The civil unrest is a mere manifestation of a public outcry for transformation. Cutting off the communication lines built on fibre optic technology or satellite can not stop the people from demonstrating their right for political change.

Historically, even in the times where the Internet was not as ubiquitous as today, genuine people’s revolution succeeded. The message passes from one person to another like bush fire, until it ablazes to burn down into ashes tyranny. The discontent of people over authoritarianism, dictatorship and manipulation of their rights create very strong emotions that fires up their ideals for social change. The classical illustrations would be of the French Revolution, and in the modern times, EDSA revolution, and East and West Germany’s reunification.

Force will be dealt with force in Egypt. Culturally its people believe in the rule of eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth. When the time is ripe for the people to stand up and claim their rights for freedom and social change, life-sacrifice will be welcomed as an act of heroism. Barbaric or not, in the Ethnic history of Egypt, death is paid back with another life. Hence, it can be expected that the more the government exhibits force to curtail its people, the more the Egyptians will fight back.

Again, in history, when people have awaken from their slumber and have known that they are in prison, they find strength and number to break their chains and cut those steel bars  that imprison them to be used as spears. The only way out for the tyrant to avoid death by public trial is to scape and seek assylum from somewhere.

Prolonging this situation in Egypt will surely cost lives and adversely impact its economy and tourist industry. Like how the Internet blackout cuts it off from the world, the world will be affected economically and politically.

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