Monday, May 05, 2008

May 4th

This is just a superquick and very sketchy and lacking picture of yesterday´s events.

The authorities seem to have focused on the infrastructure of spreading information. Already yesterday there was some problems with the Muslim Brotherhood arabic website Ikhwhan online, today harakamasriya(Kefaya´s website was blocked for Egyptian visitors. Facebook was reported to be working slower than usual among users who have state affiliated tedata as internet provider. Both Mobinil and vodafone mobile phone companies requested their users to register to be able to use sms services. some experienced problems of accessing and posting on twitter.Reuters journalist Cynthia Johnston adds some information about vodafone and mobinil´s sudden change of policy here.

Journalists was stopped from entering Mahalla. Newsteams from BBC and al Jazeera were amoong those, the hotels had been warned not to take in any foreign journalists. Cars with Cairo numberplates was not allowed in to town. Telephone and internetlines from the city was temporarilly cut off. Some arrests might have taken place.

In Cairo, the demo at the lawyers syndicate galvanized only the usual Kefaya diehards of 15 to 40, and was as always outnumbered by police and plainclothes police.There was reports of a demo taking place in Shoubra, but on the whole Cairo and Giza was pretty much as any other day, people going on with their business, going to work just as usual.

In Assiut Kefaya and MB students held a demo on campus(photos). A few MB students had ressed in black at Helwan University.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the day was the telegram of congratulations sent by Muslim Brotherhood students at al Azhar to the President and also including ten ways of helping to decrease the difference between the have and have nots in the Egyptian society. In this way continuing a tradition introduced by the the first Supreme Guda Hassan al banna , when in 1936 wrote an open letter to the new boy King Farouk(17 years at the time of his father´s death in April of that year) on the Kings responsibilities as an Islamic leader , and the role of Islam in society.

The impact of the MB taking part is hard to measure, but to call it a success would surely be too much. The skeptic has more here and Sandmonkey here.

Random thoughts in the middle of the night

I think that the critique that Hossam and to some extent Mohammed Sayyed Said give is important and not only in terms of a general strike , but also in the wider sense when working politically. Bloggers in Egypt are very good at campaigning and sawy when it comes to being creative, but in a way we have yet to connect with the people, the opposition parties faces the same problem, to some extent you can blame that on the Emergency law and political parties law that circumsize and limit the possibilities to work as a real party, and not only as a convenient democratic facade or decoré to the NDP. The bloggers has created a somewhat free political space in much the same way that the MB created a political space within the syndicates in the late 80´s and early 90`s. They managed to utilize that space and create inroads to new symphatisers, and not least important to keep old ones. The question is, In what way and how can this space be used in the best way possible, and how does one keep it free and open?

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