Fall 2013, Vol. 15, No. 1

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Spiritual Politics
Mark Silk's blog
on religion and politics 


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From the Editor:
The Anti-War Choir

Pope Francis Roars into Town

The Cardinals Knew What They Were Getting

Marriage Equality and Religious Liberty

The Calvinist Youth Movement

Congress Gets a None

Heavenly Bestsellers




Hashtag Egypt
by Ronald C. Kiener

At the outset of the Arab Spring, American news organizations were fascinated by a narrative that held social media—notably Facebook and Twitter—to be decisive in spreading the word of freedom. That internet-connected youth and middle-class liberals throughout the region were using their smartphones to organize protests, broadcast videos of government repression, and communicate with the global community. Indeed, throughout the convulsions in the region, governments periodically blocked the internet or specific services and sites.

It is all a bit of Western conceit. We’d like to think that the internet is as widely deployed in the rest of the world as it is in the United States. We are easily lulled into imagining that smartphone ownership is as prevalent, and cellular network deployment as thorough, in the Middle East and North Africa as it is in the Northeast Corridor. But that is not the case.

Much more important to the Arab Spring were the home satellite dish and the geostationary satellites that supply content (including internet backbone bandwidth). Many more households possess satellite dishes and television sets than smartphones. The two dominant satellite news channels al-Jazeera Arabic and al-Arabiya were decisive in amplifying the message of the internet technorati to the masses.

Nevertheless, there emerged in 2011 a number of bloggers, tweeters, and working journalists (both of the region and from beyond) who offered their thoughts on the historic events unfolding in Egypt. Some became international celebrities, once again through the bullhorn of the satellite.

Twitter in particular has emerged as the sure-fire platform for communicating in a “flat world.” In 140 characters, commentators are able to flash out links to news items and blogs, learned papers and video galleries. Recently, Twitter has added a crude real-time translation service for select Arabic tweeters.

Below is an annotated list of some of the very best Twitter feeds for following Egypt:

—Blogger split between U.K. and Cairo

@Sarahcarr—British-Egyptian blogger based in Cairo

@Sandmonkey—Egyptian revolutionary & former parliamentarian (with a sense of irony) based in Cairo

@TheBigPharoah—Egyptian blogger & a must-read since 2004

@arabist—Invaluable Cairo-based forum on politics and culture

@boumilo—Ran @Arabist; recently became North Africa Project Director for @CrisisGroup, a think tank that covers conflicts and conflict-resolution around the world 

@KarlreMarks—London-based blogger; writes often about Lebanon; the wittiest 140-characters in the region

@Bassem_Sabry—Cairo-based journalist and writer

@DrBassemYoussef—Cairo-based physician and now television satirist

@DaliaEzzat—Split between Canada and Egypt

@Sherifmnsour—Egyptian-American who monitors human rights issues, particularly as they impact   journalists

@abuaardvark—Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies, George Washington University

@mbinenglish—Translator of content from Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated websites

@EgyptianStreets—News and other items from Egypt

@EgyptIndependent—Website for former English language print edition of the newspaper al-Masry al-Youm

@evanchill—American journalist covering Egypt

 Related article: Springtime For Egpyt's Military


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