Revolution in Egypt

I was surprised that in none of the articles I read, was social media mentioned. Social media played a huge role in the social uprisings in Egypt. Multiple times, the internet has been ‘shut down’ in Egypt by the government, however, an anonymous  group advocating for social reform based out of Sweden (?) helped bring the internet back up on several occasions to share news with all of Egypt. This group also explained how to be smart social media and internet users, the Egyptian government is notorious for setting people up on sites like Facebook, mainly Egyptians that spoke out against the government on these social media platforms. This anonymous group helped organized the Tahrir protest by getting the internet back up and using social media like Twitter. Without social media and this social reform group, the Tahrir protest may not have been so ‘successful’ and I am surprised it was never acknowledged in any of the readings.

Something that I found interesting was in the article, “Building the New Egypt: Islamic Televangelists, Revolutionary Ethics and ‘Productive’ Citizenship” by Yasmin Moll. She explained the idea of “superficial religiosity” as being an outward show of religion purely to have the image of being devout, even though ones conduct does not align with these religious beliefs or practices. I thought this observation was important because it shows just how strict the government must be in Egypt and how closely tied religion is to the regime. Moll explains the ‘ethics’ behind religion as being more important than the practice itself. And I thought this was important, just because one prays five times a day does not mean that they can be selfish all they want. I also thought this was an interesting representation of Islam itself since the religion is often viewed as having very strict practices that one must follow in order to be a ‘good muslim.’

Another criticism of the articles that I read, given I did not read all of the posts at the bottom of the page, would be the representation of the protest itself. I thought that the protest in Tahrir was portrayed as being very successful, and I think many people would like to believe that is was, however it wasn’t. Yes, because of the protest the head of government stepped down, but only to be replaced by another extremist. Since Tahrir, there have still been protests that have been met with brutal government rebuttal, such as the 74 Egyptians that were killed in the football stadium. The Egyptian government is still seen as the most strict government when it comes to online and social media practices, they are still fish baiting innocent people online and subsequently going after them. The anonymous social reform group has actually removed most of their people out of Egypt after the Tahrir protest because it just became too dangerous. The one exception to this criticism would be A “Time out of Time”: Tahrir, the Political and the Imaginary in the context of the January 25th Revolution in Egypt by Hanan Sabea. He (she?) lists a number of horrible events that have occurred in the wake of Tahrir, “A year has passed since January 25th and with it more dramatic events of loss, death, violence, exhaustion, incomprehension.”

One thought on “Revolution in Egypt

  1. Hannah, I only read this post now and found it very interesting. Especially because it shows your knowledge of the events discussed in the posts and because you engage very critically with the readings themselves. You are absolutely right about the absence of discussion of social media. Perhaps it is an indication that the anthropologists have not been paying attention to particular social worlds and practices of Egyptian youth. Your second critique about the success or failure of the protests is also a point well made. I think it is sad that the protests, which had a democratic structure in and of themselves, were coopted by different extremist groups. You mentioned (rightly so) the religious extremists. The military is also a key player in Egypt (as well as elsewhere in the countries that experienced the Arab spring). Finally, I enjoyed your reflections of the discussion of religion as ethics. You capture that point quite well. I would only specify that this is the spirit of one kind of Islamic movement (the televangelicals) and it is juxtaposed to another more widespread and globally knows trend (the Salafi Islam).

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