(3/3) Facebook and Political Mobilization in Egypt

16 ديسمبر, 2010


An Academic Paper by: Aly El-Raggal, February 2010


This paper was submitted to Professor Alvaro Sierra as an assignment of the Program of MA in Peace, Development, Security and International  Conflict Transformation Studies at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.


Part 1Click here

Part 2: Click here


Security and the New Media

The new media, particularly social networks as Facebook, is imposing a lot of security challenges. I argue that in Egypt Facebook as a social/information network and a sort of a new media succeeded to break down the chain of power being imposed and practiced from the authority for a long time now. This chain is formed through three stages: surveillance, control and punishment. Now the authorities are confronted with the new fact that they can not put more than 1,232,480 persons under surveillance. The broken joint –surveillance- in this chain had broken down the whole chain; as the things went or could go out of their control. It is true that the authority had punished Esraa Abed El-Fateh and others after the 6th of April 2008, but they could not punish the 75,000 members of the Facebook group. They could not also punish the masses which did not go to their jobs and made a public disobedience at this day. “That Esraa herself has been deterred by the security-oriented mentality does not, argues Nabil Abdel-Fattah, suggest that that strategy will be successful in other cases. There are “hundreds of other young Egyptians who will replace Esraa and use cyber space to express their socio- political demands; no censorship or deterrence strategies can stop them”.”


Moreover, the political and social activists could easily –and some of them already did- develop new techniques to counter the government actions which were taken against them. Simply they can use fake names and change their IP addresses. Playing with these new tactics the new technologies offer is not that difficult. In August 2008, the Egyptian authorities imposed new monitoring measures by demanding that Internet cafe clients must provide their names, email and phone numbers, before they can use the Internet”. It is now 2010 and you can find a lot of Internet cafes which are not going to ask for your ID, no one even is going to ask for your name. Also the easily build relationships between the clients and those who run the Cafes in Egypt can be a real obstacle in front of the authorities even if they tried to impose these measurements by the harsh force.

Micheal Dillon, one of the famous scholars in the field of the security studies, argues that the contemporary global security concerns can be distinguished from those of previous eras by developing three analytical terms: circulation, complexity and contingency. Dillon`s analytical paradigm, in my point of view, is not only helpful to understand the new security challenges and concerns on a global level, but on national and local levels too. The complexities being imposed by Facebook and the circulation of information and data are unpredictable. Moreover, it succeeded to integrate different spheres in the same pot. These interactions between the techno, politico and social spheres are putting the security mentalities in Egypt in a real confusion and a total state of flux. This, no doubt, creates a complex systems which in Dillon`s words “are not only adaptive entities behaving more like living systems, they are a combination also of social and technical elements”. As I mentioned before, Facebook is really successful in bringing ordinary people to the game. Moreover, politics have been socialized. “Even the phrase ‘6 April youth’ is enough to ruffle the feathers of the government. The security apparatus clearly believes that this kind of opposition has the ability to incite people to demonstrate”. This is in addition to their manifesto which clearly more societal rather than political. Amr Elshobaki argues that “it is unwise, not to say impossible, to deal with Egypt’s virtual community with the same security-oriented mindset the state uses in confronting on-the-ground challenges”. Following Dillon`s line of argumentation could also allow us to see the must of the change in governmentally of the Egyptian authority regarding its old security apparatus. Dillon is saying that “the interface between the human and the technical elements is integral to the dynamic of the whole system”. He goes further saying that the interface, where the human is also the social, which is most difficult to comprehend and command. This in turn requires a cognitive shift in the way in which the natural and the social world are studied scientifically – together not separately”. The main point which could also be very important to my argument is Dillon`s conclusion that “any transformation in the way in which the world is understood technically and socially will entail a cognitive shift in the way in which security becomes problematized and in the conduct of security policy”. Dillon is arguing that “we are undergoing such a historical shift now”, which if I would take it on a national level I would argue that the new techniques and tactics which had been adopted by the political activists in Egypt is strongly shacking and threatening the authorities in Egypt.

El-Gamal believes the 6 April arrests expose how the ruling system now sees security as its only available response to Egypt’s problems. The response to the strike, says El-Gamal, is proof that we are in an urgent need of a new political mind set. Historian Qassem Abdu shares the same with El-Gamal. The detentions are an example of the security-oriented mind set of the state in dealing with any crisis situation caused by socio- economic or political conditions, he says.

El-Sennawi, a well known Nasserist writer says that there was a dire need to look into the usage of the new technologies. Weapons and armored vehicles come face to face with the new realms of technology.


In all this flux, there were some rumors about the regime intention to shut off the Facebook. “From a purely practical point of view, Elshobaki points out, shutting Facebook will have little impact since the pages that are closed can easily be re-loaded on other sites”. Nabil Abdel-Fattah believes any attempt to block Facebook will only indicate the state’s weakness and inability to confront the digital era in which we all now live. “It is as if the state can come up with nothing but old policies in facing new, revolutionary techniques. This is very unwise and will never work.”


At the beginning I argued that Facebook is an information network as well as social one. “Information networks make it impossible for politicians to maintain effective control, try as they might. The networks are simply too fluid, too leaky, too undisciplined and too rampant to allow the politicians to maintain an effective hold” (Frank Webster, 2001; p.7).




This paper argued that Facebook is not only a social network, but it an information network and a sort of New Media. It also argued that briefly the notion of Foucault Power/Knowledge and it concluded that the New Media will produce new sorts of Knowledge. This will have a lot of impacts on the exercises of power and its centralization and marginalization. The second part of this paper, discussed the role of Facebook in Egypt in the different spheres particularly the socio, politico and cultural one. It also discussed the role of Media –both of them- and the Facebook effective role in the 6th April strike, and it proved that they were very influential in moving and shaping opinions and perspectives towards the strike particularly and towards the whole system in Egypt generally. The last section of this paper argued and discussed the challenges imposed by this new technology and its impacts on the governmentally in Egypt. Which could be concluded to the following: seeking security through the old securitized orientated mindset of the regime to oppose any kind of political activism through Facebook will never be fulfilled. Moreover, it could end with a huge amount of violence which the authorities and the regime themselves are not going to stand.




Al Ahram, 2008: “Seasons of Protest”, http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/928/eg6.htm

Chris Van Buren, 2009: “Egypt and the Facebook Revolution”, available at: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/idblog/2009/01/27/egypt-and-the-facebook-revolution/, last reterived 13 Feb, 2009.

Gamal Nkrumah and Mohamed El-Sayed, 2008: “Politicising the Internet”, http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/894/pr1.htm, last reterived 13 Feb, 2009.

International Telecommunications Union, “ITU Internet Indicators 2008, retrieved on 02/09/10 from http://www.itu.int/ITUD/icteye/Reporting/ShowReportFrame.aspx?ReportNam….

Magda El-Ghitany, 2008: “Facing Facebook”, available at: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/895/eg5.htm, last reterived 13 Feb, 2009.

Ibid, 2008: “Politics or Security”, http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/893/eg5.htm,

Mohamed El-Sayed, 2009: “Face-off with Facebook”, http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/908/eg7.htm, last reterived 13 Feb, 2009.

Salonaz Sami (2008): Virtual politics, http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/909/fe1.htm

-A Tool to Mobilize?, http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/909/fe2.htm,  last reterived 13 Feb, 2009.

Wetherell, Taylor and Yates, 2003: Discourse Theory and Practice, Sage Publications LTD, London.

Wim Donk (2004): Cyber Protest: New Media, Citizens and Social Movements, available at: http://books.google.com/books?id=vm_Ox6lyyt0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=new+media+and+social+movements&cd=1#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Frank Webster (2001): Culture and Politics in the Information Age http://books.google.at/books?hl=en&lr=&id=1oGFwjQ30t0C&oi=fnd&pg=PA32&dq=new+media+and+social+movements&ots=D6hLIt5cM_&sig=SUSl_gobMpEwB0RYdWwtT-uvVys#v=onepage&q=new%20media%20and%20social%20movements&f=false

Open Net Initiative (2009) : Internet Flitering Media in Middle East and North Africa, http://opennet.net/research/regions/mena, last reterived 13 Feb, 2009.

Berkman Center for Internet and Society (2009) Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture and Dissent http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/publications/2009/Mapping_the_Arabic_Blogosphere, Issue of June 2009, last reterived 13 Feb, 2009.

David M. Faris (2009): The end of the beginning: The failure of April 6th and the future of electronic activism in Egypt  http://www.arabmediasociety.com/ , last reterived 13 Feb, 2009.

SAMANTHA SHAPIRO (2009):Revolution, Facebook-Style http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/magazine/25bloggers-t.html

i Ben Gharbia(2009): Egypt: Facebooking the Struggle http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2008/04/30/egypt-facebooking-the-struggle/



(2/3) Facebook and Political Mobilization in Egypt

13 ديسمبر, 2010


An Academic Paper by: Aly El-Raggal, February 2010


This paper was submitted to Professor Alvaro Sierra as an assignment of the Program of MA in Peace, Development, Security and International  Conflict Transformation Studies at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.

Part 1: Click here

Media, the Old and the New, and its Impact in Different Spheres


The call was through Facebook and was taken from there to every corner in Egypt. There was high and strong escalation on Facebook before the day of the Strike. Reporting every single moment happened on that day through a cooperation between the 6th of April Facebook group and Blog. Upon her arrest, a self-titled Free Israa group spontaneously emerged on Facebook, where she was considered a heroine, by the dozens of thousands who joined in. “This proved once again how powerful these online youth really are,” said Ghoneim.

People’s Assembly Speaker Fathi Sorour was quoted in Al-Ahram, the most important official Newspaper in Egypt and by far a governmental/ official one, saying: “The 6 April strike was aimed at undermining stability and security to achieve doubtful aims”. Official papers were unanimous in their criticism of the supposed misuse of the Internet. Indeed, Mohamed Ali Ibrahim, editor-in-chief of the daily official Al-Gomhuriya called upon readers to “boycott Youtube and Facebook websites”. The weekly magazine Rose El-Youssef launched a harsh critique against the Facebook, “Facebook is a secret room aimed at ruining Egypt” ran the headline of the file. “Members of the website are searching for gossip,” the paper reported. Political commentator El-Sayed Yassin was the first to attack the bloggers, accusing them of altering the truth and tarnishing Egypt’s reputation abroad. “Foreign embassies follow up on these blogs and groups and report back to their countries,” said Yassin. Most, if not all, of the bloggers’ posts distort and misrepresent reality. “They send the wrong information about Egypt to the world,” he claimed. Councilor Murad Hassan went further, insisting they deliberately manipulated facts, circulated fabricated pictures, and magnified individual incidents to mislead public opinion. “In addition, the kind of language they use to express their opinions is unsuitable and strange to our society,” Hassan told Al-Ahram Weekly.

What really tarnish Egypt’s reputation, pointed out writer Sakina Fouad, are the “lack of transparency, corruption, as well as a lack of information which these groups and blogs are trying to expose”. The 6 April strike, said Harb, showed that virtual activism is beginning to have a grassroots impact. And the fact that the regime felt it necessary to arrest 27-year-old Israa Abdel-Fattah for starting a Facebook group, he argued, “is a clear proof of the threat that the regime feels… the Internet is the new battleground between those who want to speak out and those who would stop them”. Whatever the ideological leanings of bloggers, said Bahieddin Hassan, head of the Cairo Centre for Human Rights Studies, they have one thing in common: “They are all rejected by the authorities, regardless of their political, social or religious views, on the grounds that what they do is a crime.“ And, with his magical touch as always, veteran writer Mohamed Hassanein Heikal was quoted in Al-Masry Al-Yom as saying: “The Egyptian press is experiencing a crisis, and this is attributed to the general atmosphere in Egypt which is reflected on the media scene in general.”


Is it Really Effective?

A Controversial Debate

In the aftermath of the 6th of April the question of how effective is Facebook as political and social tool for the change in Egypt becomes very debatable in the different intellectuals circles. Many see Facebook as the new hammer of hope that the struggle will use it to dig the tunnel of change in Egypt.


After an interview, with Dr. Mona El-Tahawy, a specialist on the New Media, a very positive vision for the future of political activism through the New Media, particularly Facebook, could be concluded. El-Tahawy believes that some political activists, especially young ones in their 20s, have managed to use Facebook to organize in ways unavailable to them in the “real” world. Some activities have been successful such as setting up the April 6 Movement, launching groups to combat sexual harassment and to raise awareness among young people, and most recently I just came across a Facebook group called “The Egyptian Candle Against Sectarianism Initiative”. It will organize a demonstration outside the Journalists Syndicate.


New Media is one of the few reasons that I remain optimistic about Egypt, speaks El-Tahawy, “a country where the majority of the population is under the age of 30 and where many of those young people who have Internet access are on Facebook. When I have taught classes here in the U.S. on New Media in the Arab World, my students have always been impressed at how Egyptians especially use Facebook in such a political way. Some, of course, use Facebook in the way other young people across the world do – to just connect with friends and post photos from parties – but Egyptians have embraced their ability to voice their opinion on Facebook more than the average young Americans have”.


In conclusion, El-Tahawy believes that young people in Egypt especially are learning to experiment with the voices and views through Facebook. Of course it is not available to everyone but views encountered online can be shared with friends’ offline and the circle of influence can widen.


However, the above mentioned leads us to ask with Salonaz Sami from Alhram Weekly, does what happen on Facebook remains there? Actually this could be very debatable. From my experience as an Egyptian who lives there and belong to the upper middle class, most of them have Internet access, I would say no. It does not stay there. Particularly after Facebook has succeeded to socialize politics or politicize the Internet. The call for the 6th of April, definitely, did not stay there. The night before the strike I was in Alexandria. All the people I met were speaking about the public strike; from the taxi drivers to the beggars in the streets, from my friends who do not care for politics and do not even want to hear something about to the political and social activists. In this night it did not matter which class or political party you belong to. Fear, cautious, tensions and irritations were seen, felt and even smelled in every corner. Describing the whole atmosphere before the strike and after the strike I would say that it was a night of tension, a morning of fear and cautious and the evening of taking breaths. This does not argue that everything in virtual reality moves to the reality. This mainly argues that it depends on the cause and its importance and engagement with the needs, aims or even fears and the people interests in the reality.


Mahinour El-Masari argues that under an undemocratic and tyrant regime in Egypt which suppresses any movement in general and any kind of political dissent and by the emergency law still in force, it is easy to put people in jail for lame evidences. This is the thing that makes activists prefer mobilizing others through social networks, as it is easy to escape from the supervision of the regime, especially that it is still primitive in the technology field. It also gives a wider range of people. The Facebook group calling for the 6 of April 2007 public strike reached over 70,000 members, while at the sometime Kefaya Movement, the largest opposition group by this time, didn’t exceed 4000 activists.


Chris Van Buren in his Famous article “Egypt and the Facebook Revolution” says “Egypt, long stalled corrupt secularism and Islamic fundamentalism, may find its political situation radically altered by the rise of  Facebook literate citizens, ready to blog, question and organize for their causes”. Nora Younis, in an interview done by Sami Ben Gharbia and posted on the Global Voices Advocacy said: “Internet was the main tool in mobilizing for the 6 April strike. It’s true a tiny fringe of Egyptians have access to Facebook but the 70,000+ members of the group acted as strike advocates in the society and took the debate from PC screens to taxis, workplaces, dinner tables and breadlines”. However, Nora also pointed out that we should not forget that what gave April 6 its weight was the labor movement uprising and their struggle for a dignified minimum wage. She also added that Internet alone, without the popular base, wouldn’t have led to the successful strike we witnessed April 6. Blogger Hossam El-Hamalawy criticizes the exaggeration of the influence and power of the virtual reality on reality saying:


“We, the Egyptian bloggers, have always prided ourselves on the fact that we have one foot on the ground and the other in the cyberspace… But this time, it seems some have thrown both their feet as well as brains in the cyberspace and are living some virtual reality, mistakenly believing (helped by the media sensationalist coverage of the “Facebook activism“) that they are the ones behind the events in Mahalla…”


Ismail Alexandrani, an E-journalist and Human Rights activist, told me once in an interview through the Internet that the influence of the Internet, particularly, social networks like Facebook, are very limited because of the wide spread of literacy reading and writing, as well as computer and Internet literacy.


“Some of my fellow researchers in the project Social Movements at the American University in Cairo – who are also strong activists – believe that Facebook social networking give an illusion of self that one is a real activist and a large compensatory. In fact, Facebook activists often receive Facebook “piles” in the events they created attended by hundreds, then by default does not come to it in fact only a few dozens”.


“However, I can not deny that the Facebook played an important role in the mobilization of many causes as the 6th of April for example. But we should not forget that there were different factors which were more important like the traditional media, without which the mobilization through Facebook only was not going to be that successful”, he added.


As anyone who has caught the internet virus can attest, virtual activism may serve as a substitute –and not as a spur- to activism in the real world (Tarrow 1998: 193). In my point of view, I argue that Facebook could lead for strong revolutionary shifts in the political and social spheres in Egypt. If the political activists started to adopt techniques like establishing Rhizomes to oppose the regime, these could work simultaneously and parallel on different causes in different places. This no doubt can easily exhaust the authority if it tried to oppose it. Moreover, the authority will not be able to follow the velocity and dynamics of these Rhizomes. It is asymmetric technique which the authority structures, particularly the security system –regardless its power and harsh violence dealing with any political actions- are not going to be able to ban it or stop its efficiency. Trees hierarchy structures, whatever strong they are, can not defeat the structures of the Rhizomes – this by the facts, nature and order of things.


However, away from direct political activism, I argue that there is white revolution, which many are not aware of, in the spheres of social and development activism whose playground is Facebook. Different un-politicized organizations, associations, NGOs and youth initiatives are running a strong and influential work through Facebook. And as most of their activities are safe, non ideologist and interesting, they gained great popularity and a lot members not only on the virtual reality but on the real ground. Moreover, the facilities offered by Facebook allowed them to launch strong campaigns and promote their ideas and events without spending one Egyptian pound. They do all their advertisements, public relations and publicity through Facebook. Their work has nothing to do with a direct confrontation with the current regime, but they work on cultural and social issues which could lead for drastic changes in the collective cognitive maps. This awareness sooner or later will find its way to change, not only the political structure but the whole social, economic and cultural structures in Egypt. Dr. Mona El-Tahawy in an online interview with me said: I like to say that young people in Egypt are rebuilding civil society through new media. They are expressing themselves in unprecedented ways and across the political spectrum. They are also challenging authority of various kinds – political, religious and social. You see blogs and Facebook groups and Tweets by everyone from the Muslim Brotherhood to secular groups to gays and lesbians. However, the flow of arguments leads us to try to explore the impacts of the New Media on the security mentality, structure and system of the police-state in Egypt.


To be followed…

Part 3


(1/3) Facebook and Political Mobilization in Egypt

11 ديسمبر, 2010


An Academic Paper by: Aly El-Raggal, February 2010

This paper was submitted to Professor Alvaro Sierra as an assignment of the Program of MA in Peace, Development, Security and International  Conflict Transformation Studies at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.



What can not be done in reality, can be done in virtual reality. The New Media opens totally new horizons which were never there before. Now we can be the producers and consumers, at the same time, of a media done by us. It is no longer that we are going to consume information passively. It is everyone’s turn now to tell his or her word in the world of media and information. The information technology revolution, which is considered to be the third most important one in the human history after the industrial revolution, can empower anyone who can just have access to the Internet. However positive or negative impacts this will have on our lives, this technology is no doubt a strong tool for exercising power. Technology can easily turn to be our worst nightmare. But this has nothing to do with technology itself. Still there is –and will always be- a human factor beyond the screens. The scene we watch on the theater of life is played by people like us. And even if the show was done through robots, still we are the one who program them.

The New Media, Power and Information

You Create Your Own Media

In my point of view, I argue that knowledge is mainly based and created on/ through information. Power reproduces knowledge/ power and exports it to us. According to Foucault, power is knowledge which could only be understood and have a meaning through discourses. “Discourse is about the production of knowledge through language. Foucault argues that discourse construct the topic; it defines and produces the objects of our knowledge. It governs that a topic can be meaningfully talked about and reasoned about” (Margaret, Stephanie and others, 2003: p.72). In the spectrums of these lines of argumentation, I argue that through the new technology and our capability to produce our knowledge, power can never be centralized. The truth “either/ or” dichotomy will barely exists in our life. This New Media will allow power to emerge from the center and from everywhere, not like before, practiced from the top to bottom, as Max Weiber argued. “Politics in the “information age” is, in Castell`s view, either on the informational networks or it is irrelevant. That is, contemporary politics is necessarily media-centric since outside the media sphere there is only political marginality” (quoted from Frank Webster, 2001; p.7). But what the New Media allows, from my point of view, in the game is that media is not centralized anymore.


Facebook- Your Book


Facebook is not only a social network, but it is an information network too. It is one sort of the New Media. It is, in my point of view, a revolution in the New Media itself; a radical and total change, exactly as any dictionary could define revolution. Facebook changed the whole game. It changed its tools of production and consumption. It is totally a new interface and interaction. You can produce and consume all kind of media and information from writing your status informing about your mood, to articles, news, photos, images and videos. All in the same pot and can be done almost in the same time. Every one can be on Facebook, from business men, politicians to students, young people, peasants and labours. “And if it is on the news, you will find on Facebook, said Salama –a professor of social studies” (Salonaz Sami, 2008). Social networks, particularly Facebook, made a drastic change in our lives. Debord described the change done by the new technology by saying “all that was once directly lived has become mere representation” (Debord 1992: Thesis 1).

The New Media is, according to a lot of scholars, journalists and writers, playing a huge rule in different spheres; from the socio to the economic. Egypt is the second country in Africa having Facebook users. According to Harvard University’s Berkman Centre – which did a study on the Arabic blogosphere in 2009, Egypt has the highest number of blogs in the Arab world. Since two years now, the role of Facebook and the New Media is widely debatable in Egypt. In Egypt, where more than half the population is under 25 years old, “there is a thirst for new technology,” explained Ahmed Ghoneim, a Technical Director. “Facebook has provided these young people with a chance to escape the backward conditions they were born into, into their own virtual utopia, where anything is possible,” he added.

Facebook is up and growing, offering a lot more than just a political platform for activists. Users can choose to join different networks organized by city, school or workplace. It allows members to create groups that discuss everything, from politics, philosophy, and history to religion and spirituality. Egypt, also, is one of the best examples for the usage of the social networks like Facebook, and the new media tools like Twitter for political mobilization. This is because of reasons concerning the level of freedom in the country, the strength of the opposition powers, the type of the issues and its variety, and the target group from this kind of mobilization, thus had spoken Mahinour El-Maseri, a young political activist, in an online interview with me.

In 6 April 2008, Esra` Abed El-Fatah and other young people from different organizations and movements called for a public strike. This strike found a strong ground in Egypt, particularly, in the labors sectors. And it ended with one of the most violent incidents in Gazel El-Mahaila, a big industrial city for textile. Many people were wounded by the security forces and some of them were killed. (See different reports on http://6april08.blogspot.com/). The city turned to be a battlefield between the security forces and the masses. Different cities, like Alexandria where I was in its streets reporting for Alexnews website, were occupied by hundreds of security vehicles and thousands of soldiers. Different demonstrations were oppressed by violence. This is in addition to hundreds of political arrests in different cities.

This strike caught the attention to the possibility of using Facebook as strong tool for political mobilization. Some started to argue that the Egyptian political activists are politicizing the Internet. Facebook, points out Amr Elshobaki of Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic and Political Studies, is popular all over the world. Only in Egypt, he says, has it been so politicized. One reason being that while other countries have a variety of venues for socio-political expression, including political parties and NGOs, in Egypt this is not the case. “Young people have deserted a reality in which they knew they can change nothing and directed their efforts instead towards this virtual environment. If the state deprives them of even this form of expression, then they will look to release their anger elsewhere.” They may turn to violence” (Magada El-Ghitany, 2008).

However, in my point of view, I strongly believe that Facebook succeeded to socialize politics and to politicize the Internet. The 6th of April strike was, yes, mainly initiated by political activists, but the 75, 000 who joined the Facebook group were not all of them political activists. Thousands of people who did not go to their jobs at this day were not either. Facebook succeeded to bring ordinary people to the game by making the political issues socially debatable. Even the 6th of April Manifesto was almost calling for social things. People who were doing nothing except uploading photos on Facebook and who had not done any political or social activity before are now socially debating many political issues. “This is the so called “cute-cat theory of digital activism,” whereby average users, normally interested in uploading cute cat pictures, suddenly develops a political grievance against the censoring authority” (Chris Van Buren, 2009).

However, this strike has huge impacts on the political, social and media spheres till the moments. The role, also the media –the New and the Traditional- played was very critical one, through the different stages of the strike.


to be followed….

Part 2: Click here

Part 3: Click here


النكاح السياسي في مصر .. الحراك السياسي سابقاً

25 نوفمبر, 2010

ربما كان المصريون معتادين على مسلسل الانتخابات الهزلي الذي يقوم على إنتاجه وإخراجه النظام المصري كل بضعة أعوام، سواء اتخذ شكل انتخابات برلمانية لمجلسي الشعب والشورى، أو انتخابات رئاسية يفوز فيها مرشح الحزب الحاكم من بين بضعة مرشحين اعتمد ترشيحهم جهاز أمن الدولة المصري، الذي هو البوابة الرئيسية لأي مرشح مصري لأي منصب كان، بدءًا من رئيس الوزراء وحتى المواطن السوهاجي الذي احتسى في بيته الرئيس حسني مبارك كوباً من الشاي “الصعيدي التقيل” على حد وصف وسائل الإعلام المختلفة.

من مقتطفات انتخابات 2005 البرلمانية - الصورة لوكالة الأنباء الفرنسية


عبد الرحمن محمود

وربما كانت مصر تشهد أيضاً ما اعتاد الإعلاميون، ومن ورائهم المثقفون والسياسيون أن يصفوه بأنه حراك سياسي منذ عام 2000، خاصة عندما شهدت مصر أول انتخابات برلمانية تحت الإشراف القضائي الكامل، ومن بعدها بدأت العملية السياسية المصرية تنحو منحىً جديداً كل الجدة. وكان من وراء ذلك عدة عوامل، ليس أولها ظهور مشروع التوريث الذي أصبح جلياً للعيان مع إظهار – ولا أقول “ظهور” – نجم جمال مبارك،  نجل الرئيس المصري، على المسرح السياسي للحزب الحاكم، وتوليه مسؤولية أمانة السياسات، التي تم تفصيلها لتكون مهد التحولات الجديدة التي ينتظر أن يفجرها  مهدي الحزب الوطني المنتظر، فشهدت مصر ربما لأول مرة ذلك التزاوج الفج بين المال والسلطة على يد العديد من حواريي المهدي المنتظر من رجال الأعمال المنخرطين في الوزارات والمناصب التنفيذية.

وفي المقابل أدى التطور التكنولوجي وانتشار وسائل الاتصال غير التقليدية إلى سهولة تداول المعلومات، بل الصور والتسجيلات التي تؤدي – ليس فقط إلى فضح ممارسات النظام الحاكم القمعية والإرهابية في كثير من الأحيان – بل أيضا إلى حشد الدعم الإعلامي الضخم خلف الكثير من تلك القضايا، وإجبار النظام على أن يخطو خطوة للخلف، لمراجعة استراتيجيته في مواجهة تلك الآلة الجبارة التي لم تكن في حسبانه، والتي لا تصل إليها عصاه الغليظة إلا في أضيق الحدود. ومن الجدير بالذكر أن التطور التكنولوجي الهائل في وسائل الاتصال وتداول امعلومات، أدى بالضرورة إلى إنشاء “مجتمع بديل” من حيث النشأة وسقف الحرية، بل الإمكانيات المتاحة من خلاله، أدت بدورها بالضرورة إلى نشوء حالة من الفوضى اختلط الخلاق فيها بالهدام، ولم تتبلور بعد معالمها النهائية من حيث نتائجها المباشرة على مصير المجتمع.

كل ذلك أدى بالضرورة إلى تغيير جذري في التركيبة السياسية للمجتمع المصري، فبعد أن كان العاملون في الحقل السياسي المصري يقتصرون على الأحزاب الرسمية بما فيها الحزب الحاكم، وجماعة الإخوان المسلمين المحظورة قانوناً، اشتعلت الحياة السياسية كالنار في الهشيم بنشأة الكثير من الحركات والجبهات، والتشكيلات غير المندرجة تحت أوصاف قديمة بعينها، وانخراطها مع المجتمع في بؤر الصراع المختلفة، التي تتأثر وفق محيط المجتمع السياسي من فترات سخونة واندلاع إلى فترات برود وانقشاع، فمن 6 أبريل إلى 4 مايو إلى جبهة التغيير إلى شباب من أجل التغيير إلى كفاية إلى غيرهم من الحركات التي أحدثت دوامات في الشارع المصري، والتي اعتمدت على بعض الأحداث الساخنة في تجييش الشارع، أو على الدقة استهداف الشارع المصري الذي غاب منذ عقود عديدة عن العمل المدني والسياسي.


هل ألقت التغييرات الجذرية بظلالها على الجماعات القديمة؟

بقيت في المجتمع المصري كعادتها الأحزاب السياسية بما فيها الحزب الحاكم ترفل في أتون السلطة والمعارضة المدجنة المحسوبة بدقة، لإبقاء الوضع كما هو عليه، أو كما يريده أصحاب الشأن وأصحاب الوصاية على هذا المجتمع الخرب، وكلما كان أحد الأحزاب المعارضة يخرج عن الدور المرسوم له، كلما تدخلت أيدي الأمن الرحيمة بأبناء ذلك الحزب، لتعيد الأمور إلى سيرتها الأولى، رحمة بأبنائه من أن ينالوا مصير أيمن نور المظلم في غياهب السجون. وبغض النظر عن بعض المحاولات البائسة، ظلت الحياة السياسية الرسمية في مصر على حالها من اقتسام كعكة الدولة، بركات النظام الحاكم، حتى لو كان ذلك عن طريق تلميع بعض الأحزاب المعارضة، وتجهيزها لتحل محل “الجماعة المحظورة” التي ربما حان الوقت لأن تخرج من إطار الصورة حيث أن العلاقات المصرية الأمريكية لا تحتاج إلى رقة الضغط المتمثلة في الجماعة الدينية المتطرفة المتوغلة بين المصريين، والتي سوف تقطع دابر العلاقات المصرية الأمريكية إذا ظلت هذه الأخيرة تندد بدكتاتورية النظام المصري.

وعلى ذلك، خرج علينا حزب الوفد في ثوبه الجديد بعدد من الإعلانات مدفوعة الأجر على الفضائيات، وكثير من المنضمين له من النخب المدجنة المستفيدة بالحضور السياسي والإعلامي المصوب نحو الحزب، وأصبح المأثور عن الأحزاب السياسية هو الرغبة في التمثيل المشرف، فكل حزب يسعى لأن يكون له عدد من الممثلين في المجالس النيابية لكي يكون له مرشح لرئاسة الجمهورية وفق التعديل الدستوري الجديد، يمكنه من المشاركة في المهرجان الاحتفالي اللذيذ الذي أنعم عليهم به الرئيس المصري بعد تعديل الدستور، ليكون الرئيس المصري بالانتخاب وليس بالاستفتاء.


ماذا عن جماعة الإخوان المسلمين؟

ربما كانت الجماعة في مصر هي الأكثر إثارة للجدل في تاريخ مصر المعاصر، فهي جماعة مستنفرة في حالة دائم من الصراع منذ نشأتها سواء مع نظام الاحتلال أو نظام الثورة أو نظام الانفتاح أو نظام التوريث.


إلا أن الناظر لحال الجماعة اليوم، بغض النظر عن التحليلات الموغلة في العمق التي ليس هذا محلها أو مقامها، يجد أن من الواضح بمكان أن أجندة الجماعة في مصر لا تعبر بجلاء عن واقع وطموحات وآمال الشارع المصري. ربما هناك كثير من التبريرات والأعذار، أو مناطق الاختلاف في تقييم مواقف الجماعة واستراتيجياتها، إلا  أنه لا يمكن إلا الجزم بأن مصالح الجماعة ربما تدفعها للكثير من الاختيارات التي تبعدها شيئاً فشيئاً عن صحيح التمثيل السياسي للشارع المصري، فقد أسفرت الحقبة السياسية الأخيرة عن كثير من الانتفاضات الشعبية العمالية بل الفئوية المختلفة التي أحجم الإخوان عن دعمها وتأييدها، فضلاً عن المشاركة بها، مما أكد الانطباع بأن أجندة هؤلاء القوم ربما تكون متقاطعة مع أجندة الشارع المصري، ولا أقول النخبة المصرية.

يزيد من ذلك ما بدأت بوادره تظهر إلى العلن مع زيادة الانفراجة الإعلامية، التي طالت فيما طالت الإخوان المسلمين، بالرغم من تكتمهم وحيطتهم الشهيرة المدفوعة بالحصار الأمني للجماعة، والتي أسفرت عن ظهور الكثير من الخلافات المتكتم عليها للعلن، وليس أول ذلك ما أعلن عنه بعض قياديي الجماعة من تأكيد التنسيق الأمني بين النظام “متمثلاً في أجهزة الأمن” وبين الجماعة في الانتخابات التشريعية المصرية عام 2005، ومهما كان حظ تلك التسريبات والتصريحات من الصحة، فإن موقف الجماعة برمته من الحالة السياسية المصرية إنما يُظهر بجلاء كيف تحول الحراك السياسي في مصر من حالة سياسية إيجابية تتفاعل من خلالها النخب السياسية المختلفة مع الشارع المصري، لتدشين رؤيتها، وإعلاء رايتها، إلى حالة حراك مستمر في دائرة مغلقة، ليس مركزها بالتأكيد الشارع المصري، وما يموج به من غليان وسخط على النظام الحاكم، ولا نتجاوز إذا تصورنا أن ذلك الحراك إنما قد يعبر عن سيرك قومي كبير اعتاد النظام المصري على نصبه كل فينة وأخرى لتجميل أو تشريع، أو تجديد صورته القائمة، ولا يعدو أن يكون الوضع السياسي بهذا الحال مجرد ما اصطلح المصريون على تسميته “تباديل وتوافيق” أو “سد خانات” من أجل تحقيق المصلحة القومية الكبرى كما يرصدها النظام الحاكم.

ولا شك أنه في ظل مثل تلك المعمعة يمكننا الجزم بأن جميع الفاعلين على الساحة السياسية المصرية، وبغض النظر عن الحكم على النوايا والدواخل، قد جانبهم الصواب في السقوط في فخ ما نجح النظام في حياكة ثوبه، وهو البحث عن الرسمية، فجماعة الإخوان لاتزال حتى تلك اللحظة، ومنذ عشرات السنين، تبحث عن مقاعد مجلس الشعب باعتبارها التحدي الرئيس للنظام الذي يدعي أنها جماعة محظورة، ويحظر عليها العمل السياسي أو الانخراط في المنظومة الحزبية. وبذلك المنظور تكون الجماعة قد سقطت في الفخ عن جدارة، ويكون النظام قد نجح في تصفية القوة الرئيسية للإخوان المسلمين المتمثلة في شرعيتها النابعة من الجماهير، حيث أنه من المعلوم بالضرورة في الحياة السياسية المصرية، أن أعضاء المجالس النيابية، لا يمثلون الشعب المصري في شيء.

وإذا كان أيضا من المعلوم من الحياة السياسية بالضرورة، أن الحزب الحاكم لن يسمح بالتفريط في أغلبية الثلثين التي تعطي له الحق في التحكم الكامل في مصير المنظومة الدستورية والتشريعية في مصر، فإنه ينبغي على أي شخص صادق، أو حتى منطقي، في رغبته في إدراك التغيير السياسي، هو أن ينازع الحزب الحاكم في تلك الأغلبية على الأقل، فيسعى للسيطرة على ما هو أكثر من ثلث المجلس التشريعي، وهو الثلث المعطل، كما يصطلح على تسميته السياسيون. ورغم ذلك فإننا نرى أن جماعة الإخوان المسلمين عندما تنزل إلى مثل تلك المعتركات الانتخابية ترشح عدداً أقل من أن يعطي لها، أو حتى للمعارضة المصرية بصفة عامة، ذلك الثلث في حالة نجاح جميع مرشحيها، وهو اللغز الذي لا نستطيع حياله أن نحسن الظن في أجندة، أو على الأقل استراتيجية، الجماعة ومنطقها.

النجمة السداسية للوضع السياسي المصري؛ بين هرم الشرعية وهرم الرسمية

قد يعتقد الكثير من المهتمين بالشأن السياسي في صحة الافتراض المبدئي؛ أن كل ما هو شرعي هو رسمي بالضرورة، وأن العكس صحيح، فيكون كل ما هو غير شرعي بطبيعة الحال غير رسمي. وهذا المبدأ إن صح، إنما هو يقوم على أساس منطقي هو أن مصدر كل من الشرعية والرسمية واحد، وهو فيما يتعلق بالنظام السياسي يتمثل في عنصر الشعب، أو الإرادة الشعبية.

إلا أن تلك القاعدة لا يمكن إلا القول بعدم انطباقها على الوضع المصري الراهن، إذ أن مجرد التفير في سعي جماعة الإخوان المسلمين المحموم للظفر بعدد من مقاعد مجلس الشعب، بالإضافة إلى سعيها الحثيث لإدراك الرسمية في النظام السياسي المصري، ما هو إلا محض وهم يشف عن أن النظام المصري نجح بجدارة في التأثير على خصومه والإيحاء لهم بأن الحلبة الرئيسية للصراع، متمثلة في تبوء مكانة في هرم الرسمية في النظام المصري. ذلك الهرم الذي تقوم عليه مؤسسات النظام المصري، وتشمل فيما تشمل:  مؤسسات الرئاسة، والبرلمان، والأحزاب وغيرها. وعلى ذلك الأساس يكون الإخوان المسلمون أعلى مكانة في هرم الرسمية من غيرهم من الأحزاب نظرا لتمكنهم من حصد ثمانية وثمانين مقعداً من مقاعد البرلمان المصري في عام 2005، وهي المكانة التي أعطت للجماعة حصانة بدرجة معينة، ومكانة سياسية تجعلها ربما أعلى قدرا ومكانة من بقية القوى السياسية، مما ترفض معه الجماعة بشدة أن تفرط فيه في الانتخابات المقبلة. ومهما كان من أمر مكانة الإخوان المسلمين في هرم الرسمية الوهمي الذي شيده النظام المصري، وأوقف على عتباته حراسه الأوفياء من أساطين الحزب الحاكم، إلا أنه لا مفر من القول بأن ذلك الهرم، ما هو إلا هرم مقلوب يتقاطع بالكلية مع هرم الشرعية الواقعي الضارب بأطنابه في جذور هذه الأرض. وهرم الشرعية في مصر لا يعدو أن يكون متمثلاً في رغبات أبناء ذلك الوطن في الخروج من نير المستعمر الوطني كما خرج من قبل من نير المستعمر الأجنبي، وتتكون قاعدته من الملايين العريضة من أبناء هذا الوطن من المطالبين بالحرية، والديمقراطية والإصلاح والتغيير.

وبالتالي فإن هرم الشرعي المصرية يكاد يكون منعدما “في اتجاه قمته” كلما ترسخ وتأيد هرم الرسمية الوهمي الموحى به من قبل النظام المصري، وفي المقابل، يكون هرم الرسمية في أ>نى شرعيته عن عموم الشعب المصري، اللامنتمي إلى النظام الرسمي، الذي حول أسماءهم إلى مجرد أرقام في كشوف الناخبين يتم ملؤها بمعرفة مخبري أمن الدولة، أو أصحاب المصالح مع النظام.

النكاح السياسي على مذهب النظام الحاكم


وبين هؤلاء وأولئك، تفرق دم الشعب المصري، بين مجموعة من النخب التي التبستها مسوح الرسمية، وأسكرتها دماء الشهداء، فصاروا يقفزون من معركة إلى معركة، ويخرجون من ساحة إلى ساحة، من انتخابات لمجلس الشعب، إلى أخرى للشورى، إلى ثالثة للرئاسة، ولا بأس أن تكون بينها أخرى نقابية أو محلية، إلى آخر ذلك من المعارك الوهمية.

وعلى مذهب النظام الحاكم، يختلف فقهاء الحياة السياسية المصرية، على إحدى مواد الدستور، وتدور بينهم السجالات والنقاشات، ويسيل الحبر أنهاراً، وتتأهب الصحف لنقل وقائع اليوم المشهود، وتختلف النخب، وينشغل الإعلام، وتدور رحى الدعاوى القضائية، والمحاكم الفضائية، مرة بين الإخوان والحكومة، ومرة بين الأحزاب بعضها مع بعض، ومرات عديدة داخل الحزب الواحد، فتفتت الحياة السياسية إلى جزر منعزلة، في بحر عميق من الخواء والعدمية. وتناسلت القضية الواحدة إلى قضايا عديدة، متفرقة متمتفاوتة، وتأطرت القوى السياسية في نكاح أزلي على مذبح النظام الحاكم، الذي وقف بعيدا عنهم، يسبقهم بخطوات، يتلو عليهم، قواعد اللعبة، وشروط المرحلة القادمة.

الحلقة القادمة: المؤسسات الموهومة للدولة المصرية: مؤسسة القضاء 1-1

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