Today we had a guest speaker from Cairo, Eygpt talk to the class about the revolution that occurred over there. Rehab Elbakry is a journalist from Cairo.
Human rights reports have been awful abroad in the past few years. Very little is being reported and records are being held. The start of the revolution was about releasing this information. Egypt was the first country to sentence people to harsh punishments for what people put on their blogs. One man had uploaded a video that he took of police officers splitting drugs that they took from drug dealers instead of turning it over to evidence. Police brutality is hard to negate after people have seem a video of it online.
Facebook was one of the few areas of political activism in Egypt. Handing out pamphlets is illegal under Egyptian law. Facebook was a place to vent. Only 20 percent of Egyptians are online, but people share WiFi and modems so that number could be more. The government was proud of that number because in 2000, Egyptians had no internet access. The revolution started on the National Police Day. 57 people were shot dead from the start of the revolution on October 25th to October 27th. Not many people know that because the police do not keep records. Tear gas was used and batons were used to beat people.
It was amazing to hear the precautions Journalists had to take in order to protect themselves from the government but to also get the story about the revolution out. Rehab used her connections and her government clearance in order to contact others internationally about the revolution. She risked being flagged by the government but by using someone else’s information she hoped to delay being found by the government. I wonder if the occupiers of Wall Street took inspiration from the riots in Egypt. There are many similarities, but I feel that those in Egypt had more to complain about than we do in America. They had very little human rights where in America, we have rights. We are not censored on social media like the Egyptians are. One blogger was sent to jail for 5 years because of what he wrote on his blog. Hearing all of this makes me feel that our problems here are something we need to deal with, but are nothing compared to the cruelty people experience abroad. People should feel lucky for what we have here. One day we will get it right.