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Bloggers Bomb for Blogger

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Egypt, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Human Rights, Law, Politics, Protest

Not the life-threatening variety of course. I'm talking about a campaign to bring attention to the situation of detained Egyptian blogger Alaa Ahmed Seif al-Islam [1], as well as the more than 40 other peaceful protesters held by the authorities.

Blogging supporters have started a new site to track the latest information at Free Alaa! [2]. There are many banners and pictures available as photographs on flickr tagged alaa [3].

In addition bloggers are using another technique to bring Egypt [2] and the Egypt [2]ian Government and the Egypt [2]ian Government's human rights record to public attention.

Close examination will show that each occurrence of the word “Egypt” above is linked to freealaa.blogspot.com. This is a well-known technique [4] – if enough people make the same link to the word “Egypt” then eventually a search on the word will give the site as one of the top results.

Alaa is a popular blogger and supporter of blogging. He and his wife Manal run the Egyptian Blog Aggregator [5]. It seems fitting that other bloggers are using the medium to the fullest extent to campaign for his release.

Free Alaa [2]

Alaa is a prominent member of Kifaya [6] (“enough”) known as The Egyptian Movement for Change, a grassroots pro-reform protest group which was described last year [7] in this way by human rights activist Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim [8]:

… that very simple slogan will probably enter the English language, or all the European languages, as the second probably most well-known word in Arabic after “Intifada.” So, 10, 15 years ago introduced the word intifada – uprising – and now this year the word Kif[a]ya…

For Egyptians to demonstrate, even in small numbers, to break the fear barrier and to continue to do so for now three months continuously, small groups here and there continue to demonstrate. The Muslim Brothers demonstrate, the leftists demonstrate, the Nasserites demonstrate. The judges – that is the latest – the judiciary in Egypt is rising up also in defiance, demanding its own independence – wanting to restore its own independence.

It's the continued struggle for independence of the Egyptian judiciary which has led to Alaa's detention. Early in April the authorities took action to prosecute judges who complained about election violations [9]. A few weeks later a group of 50 judges held a sit-in protest [10] to oppose the government's prosecution of their colleagues. Demonstrators came to support the judges’ action but the authorities then broke up this protest violently and beat a senior judge who came out to intervene.

It was in the most recent of this cycle of demonstration – detention – demonstration in support of the detained that Alaa and 10 other of his colleagues were themselves taken in by the authorities.