"Released With A Hashtag"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Imagine living in a society where your voice was silenced, your rights were minimal, your safety was not guaranteed and the information you received about the world around you came with the caution that it may or may not be the truth. This unfortunately was not just the imaginary life for millions of people, it was the reality for those calling Egypt home.

In the midst of their recent revolution, however, there has been a great shift. This shift was outlined by Hanna Sistek in a post she recently co-authored with Tanja Aitamurto.

Prior to the revolution, Freedom of the press was not a feasible ideal. Nor was the idea of citizen bloggers, tweeters or facebookers. In fact, the media was so highly regulated by the government that a top newspaper, Al-Ahram, printed an apology for "inaccurate reporting" after President Mubarak stepped down.

With Mubarak no longer in control, the country's consumption and production of media has changed dramatically. The article states that new channels are being created, media agencies are forming and citizen journalist are becoming high profile "celebrities" in the region. This all began with something so simple, something most of us do everyday in America and something that is taken for granted-sharing.

This new environment is happening via the Internet in Egypt, and has begun to transform their culture and allow them to partake in the global exchange of ideas. It has also given way to a stronger sense of unity and ownership because they are now able to more freely communicate with one another and have open and progressive discussions on where they see themselves as members of this new Egyptian climate.

Although tremendous strides have been made in the short time since Mubarak's exit, there are still barriers to break down in the country. Freedoms of speech and press have increased significantly, but people are still being prosecuted, convicted and jailed for their words. The good news-the people in Egypt will not allow this to go on quietly. Thanks to their new tools (facebook, twitter, ect.) they are able to quickly spread the message and mobilize support when these instances occur. In fact, one blogger was recently freed from jail after an enormous outcry from the country. She was not only released but also saved with a hashtag.


David Wiley September 24, 2011 at 1:43 PM  

I know that I would not like the idea of living in that sort of society. That sort of repression has been in place around the world. I know that Russia's history was dominated by the voice of people being silenced. The only media was what the government allowed to be presented, which was usually propaganda.

I almost wrote an article about the freedom of press in Egypt and the impact it is having. I'm glad to see you beat me to the topic. It is amazing how quickly things are changing there, as evidenced with the release of the blogger via a hashtag. Great story!

Megan Evans September 25, 2011 at 10:40 AM  

Thanks, I think it's incredibly important to discuss it and make sure that this freedom is a freedom for all!

Mike Tweeton September 25, 2011 at 2:28 PM  

Great post Megan. Sometimes it is easy to take for granted all of the freedoms we are granted. This online conversations is something that posibly could not happen in Egypt, but thankfully their system is progressing. Without freedom of speech or freedom of the press, I imagine our country would be a rather bleek place to exist. I wonder if the revolution that is taking place in Egypt will spur other revolutions around the world?

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