Egypt protest photos via Flickr

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The “monasosh” stream on Flickr was updated Saturday with the image above of a smiling Egyptian army soldier posing with a baby for a photo on top of an armored vehicle riddled with Arabic graffiti. She has been taking pictures with a BlackBerry. The Internet remains disrupted, including BlackBerry service, but she is still getting her photos out. This particular photo, in the context of fresh reports that wealthy elites close to President Hosni Mubarak are fleeing Egypt, makes me feel that the end is near for that nation’s autocratic ruler. Events are shifting so quickly that my meager blog posts feel stale after a few hours. Watch Al Jazeera English’s live stream for the absolute latest. Hopefully the blood that has been spilled will not have been in vain.

How long can Egypt afford to keep the Internet down?

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Photo credit: Monasosh on Flickr

See that cell phone in the top right corner of the photo? The Internet and SMS text messages may have been disrupted by the Mubarak regime, but cell phones and cameras were not rendered inoperable. This Jan. 28, 2011, photo was taken with a Blackberry in the neighborhood of Imbaba near Cairo. The photographer got it and other photos onto Flickr. How the photographer did that, I don’t know. The only regular Internet that was working was the one functioning ISP serving the Egyptian Stock Exchange. Others had the option – albeit very expensive – of using satellite phone services. But it really didn’t matter. The damage already was done on Facebook and Twitter and text messages rallying the Egyptian people to protest after Friday prayers before the Internet crackdown. One TV newscaster on Al Jazeera English believed that the loss of online information actually drew more people outside to find out what was happening. I also think that the protesters, without the need to keep uploading photos from their phones or check for updates on their computers, were left to be singularly focused on causing a breakdown of government authority. On Friday night, President Obama urged the Mubarak regime “to reverse the actions that they’ve taken to interfere with access to the Internet.” In reality, the regime cannot sustain the disruption unless Mubarak is prepared to take Egypt on a journey backwards to pre-Internet times. Sure, half the country is broke or out of work, but the other half needs ATMs and credit cards. Those don’t work without connectivity. And every minute without the Internet, Egyptians are missing out on this:

Source: The Clearly Dope