The growing phenomenon of Arabic-language blogging makes this awkward truce between citizens and their governments untenable. Blogs, by their very nature, blur the line between private and public expression; bloggers are free to publish their most strident personal views anonymously for all to read--and from the privacy of their own homes. In some Arab countries, like Egypt, because of the dispersed way Internet connections are distributed, it is virtually impossible to curb the continued distribution of this content short of shutting down the country's fixed communications infrastructure altogether. And some of those countries' bloggers seem to know it. One blog went so far as to post a poem in Egyptian vernacular called "We'd like you dead, o President" alongside a photo of Hosni Mubarak on February 11. The first of thirteen posted comments reads, in formal Arabic: "We in the secret police have determined from which site this threat against the person of his Excellency the President originated. We will take the necessary measures to punish whoever carries this out. Wait for us." Rather than cow the bloggers concerned, who perhaps believed the note to be a fake, this seems only to have egged them on. The comment that follows, posted in English, reads, "Oh look, I'm shaking in my little space boots." The comment after that begins with the well-known cyber-acronym "lol" (short for "laughing out loud").Braude's thoughts on how Arab rulers used to exile their opponents are very interesting. As he says, is it wise to exile a dissident if he/she can cause more trouble from another country due to the power of modern technology?
Internet As Politics
Posted by Dana
Joseph Braude writes (free registration required) on how the Internet is changing politics in Arab countries: