Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egyptian Revolution and Web 2.0 as vehicle of consciousness and change

The best Jihad (struggle) is to speak the truth before a tyrant ruler.
- Bukhari

Congratulations to the freedom loving people of Egypt who have managed to bring down a 30 years long oppressed regime (of Hosni Mubarak, a modern day Egyptian 'Pharaoh' and hopefully the Last Pharaoh of Egypt) by one of the most organic and at the same time predominantly peaceful revolution.

In the last few weeks we have witnessed quite a remarkable history in the making where communication over the internet (a very important modern day symbol of oneness) was at the forefront in seeding this movement and uprising. Due to emergency laws, public gathering was banned for a long time. Thus massive communication over the internet sites was very instrumental in breaking the barriers, bringing people together.

The Egyptian revolution is a very important case-study for how Internet is becoming one of the most effective means of transmitting consciousness and catalyst for transformation. It is a great assurance for many of us who are inspired to use the inter-connected universal web as an effective medium to transmit and preserve the timeless truth to humanity. Many people around the world are using the web as tool from organizing activism, protesting against oppression and injustice as well as revoicing the messages of Truth.

The net itself is a very gnostic invention since it transcendentalises matter in a very rapid and effective way. - Hakim Bey, Anarchist Mystic

The evolving and powerful role of Internet is quite remarkable. Contemporary mystics who are experiencing visions for the future of humanity have been speaking for sometime how internet is very much a living example of oneness. American Mystic, political writer and thinker, Hakim Bey (Peter Lamborn Wilson) argues why Internet is a religious phenomenon.

"It's interesting to watch the net and to approach media ecology, and the internet, specifically from the point of view of what I do. Which is essentially the study of the history of religions, or histories of religion.. It is extremely obvious to me that the internet is a religious phenomenon. This may not have occurred to everyone who is closer to it than I am. First of all, all technology can be analized according to religious principles. When I speak about religion, I am not speaking from the point of view of religion. In fact, I prefer to be an outsider there as well. However, in some points, unavoidably, I will express myself as if I were thinking from a religious point of view.

Please understand that I am not supplying any dogma or article of faith,I am simply trying to analize the phenomenon in a purely structural way and if that is useful for me in my own search for truth, maybe it's useful
for you. All technology is a religious phenomenon: Why?

Because unless you belong to the human condition, you cannot have technology. What is the human condition? What makes a human being different from an animal? I would say consciousness or self-consciousness, perhaps. Not awareness though, we know that animals are aware, but what we don't know is whether they are conscious. And we certainly don't know whether they are self-conscious.

One of the symptoms of consciousness, or self-consciousness, is technology and it is impossible, structurally or historically, to separate technology from consciousness when we try to imagine what it is to be human. As soon as we see in the archeological record evidence of a Simian or a similar creature that we could identify as human, then the only reason why we do so is because there are some broken stones next to the bones, that look like they may have been intended to be tools. What separates animals from humans is technology. From one point of view, that is religion. Because you cannot have technology unless you can extricate consciousness outside the body. If you cannot understand that consciousness is something which projects outward into the world, you cannot create the prothesis, the extension of the body, which is technology, be it a broken stone, or a computer.

We now also have cyberspace. We have the concept of the virtual. Heaven or paradise, the mind principle, sepa- rated from the body, becomes cyberspace. Cyberspace is a version, paradoxical, or even a parody, of heaven. It's a place where your body is not present, but your consciousness is. It is a place of immortality, of not being mortal, of having overcome death. Cyberspace is spurious immortality. This brings me to the point of the military aspect of the net, because the net is actually a war in heaven. What else would the phrase "information war" mean than a war in heaven? A war which would take place in this spurious heaven, this false transcendence of cyberspace. We know that the net originates as a military space. The original ARPA-net was designed in order to avoid the physical disruption which would have been involved in atomic explosion. The net itself is a very gnostic invention since it transcendentalises matter in a very rapid and effective way. Basically, we are looking at a war in heaven."  (details)


Coming back to the Egyptian Revolution, we see that many attempts by ordinary people to protest against  Mubarak and to take him down came to failure many countless times over in the past thirty years of his dictatorship. Come 2011, things were radically different and many analysts are identifying the Web 2.0 social communication tools such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to be the primary change making factor.

Very unassuming people like Wael Ghonim  and Asmaa Mahfouz were the hero and heroine behind the scene and also who actively participated in the real protests outside their virtual activism. Ghonim helped administer a Facebook page instrumental to organizing the January 25 protests in Egypt. The Wall Street Journal reports that during the initial demonstrations, Wael Ghonim, who works as Google Executive wrote on his Facebook status, “I said one year ago that the Internet will change the political scene in Egypt and some [f]riends made fun of me.” He disappeared the next day, was detained by Egyptian police for 12 days. The activism on part of Asmaa was also very daring.

Asmaa Mahfouz created a Youtube appeal for people to gather at Tahrir Square to protect and shared it on Facebook - The information spread like wildfire and before anybody could imagine there were scores of people, then hundreds, then thousand until it became millions and few millions of people in the streets of Egypt which eventually forced Mubarak to resign.

This is what she appealed in her video posted on youtube (quoted partially):
Your presence with us will make a difference, a big difference! Talk to your neighbors, colleagues, friends and family and tell them to come.  They don’t have to come to Tahrir Square, just go down anywhere and say it, that we are free human beings. Sitting at home and just following us on news or Facebook leads to our humiliation.  Leads to my own humiliation…  Go down to the street, send SMS’s, post it on the ‘net, make people aware.  You know your own social circle, your building, your family, your friends, tell them to come with us.  Bring 5 people, or 10 people; if everyone manages to bring 5 or 10 to Tahrir Square, and talk to people and tell them, this is enough!  Instead of setting ourselves on fire, let us do something positive.  It will make a difference, a big difference.  Never say no hope!  Hope disappears only when you say there’s no hope.

On the 25th, over 15,000 Egyptians convened with Mahfouz in Tahrir Square. And the rest of the history we are living now. Click here to see Asmaa's video

What's remarkable here is that people, specially the young generation who spend great amount of time at social sites like Facebook, Twitter - are often accused to be very passive. But this Egyptian revolution proves that the virtual gathering can well be converted into real time gatherings in the real world and be turned into very effective causes.

A voice that ushered in a social revolution in Egypt -- where the most powerful weapon -- was social networking. - CBS News

Guardian's Peter Beaumont writes: "If, as the evidence strongly suggests, social networks like Facebook and Twitter were crucial in organising the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, what does that mean about the nature of these revolutions and their ability to negotiate with the still strong remnants of the autocratic states left behind?

For what we have witnessed in both countries are uprisings that have mirrored the nature of the online networks used to organise them. They have been viral events, at least at first, which have quickly forged links between disparate interest groups – non-hierarchical in the way they have come together.

In some ways, too, they have felt post-ideological; the hatred of Mubarak as a personality, or Ben Ali and the Trabelsi clan in Tunisia, far more in evidence than systematic demands for another way of doing business.

While none of these remarks is intended to undermine what Egypt's brave people have achieved, I am curious how movements configured in this way can deal with the lingering legacy of dictatorship and its institutions, as well as the fact of the dictator.

Curious, too, because it is possible that we are witnessing the birth of a new kind of revolutionary politics that is defined not so much by the mass street protests but the way in which those participating have come together."


Due to enormous effect of Facebook in accelerating this change, many are calling the Egyptian Revolution as Facebook Revolution and some are seeing its spiritual values as well. Susan Brooks wrote in Washington Post about the spiritual nature of Egypt's Facebook revolution:

But I believe Facebook is more than a digital means to a social end. To some extent, the role of social media in the lives of young people today is itself a form of spirituality--your "face" on "Facebook" is a way to express that you exist, that you matter, that you are not alone in your hopes and dreams. It's a way to connect, and yes, to organize.This is something of what young Americans mean when they say they are "spiritual but not religious." They do not feel that older forms of traditional religion that are often repressive speak to their lives or their longings.

Personally I was very much following the development in Egypt since its early days (later part of January) of common people gathering at Tahrir Square of Cairo. Thanks to Democracy Now and Al Jazeera English live streaming (both are freely accessible online) one could receive almost real time development from the ground.  Ofcourse there were enormous amount of updates and feeds coming through Facebook, Twitter and other places. This autocratic and oppressive regime needed to go and how wonderful it is to see that this happened through the power of common people without armed struggle but by struggle of sheer will power of masses, by the force of unity.

Oppression (Zhulm) will be darkness on the day of judgement.
- Hadith of Prophet

God declares: "Oh, my servants! I have made oppression haram (forbidden) upon myself, and also between you. So do not oppress each other." - Hadith Qudsi

The exodus from Egypt, from slavery to freedom, is for Hebrews only, not for Arabs. - Yossi Sarid criticizing Israel's role, at Haaretz

The scale of corruption, inhumaneness and injustice committed by these corrupt head of the states are unimaginable. Ousted president Hosni Mubarak, one who was long time supported, fed and protected by US and its allies has more than $70 billion (unconfirmed) and now his assets are frozen by Swiss Government. Just imagine the amount of wealth accumulated while in his own country people committed suicide because of economic hardship and because people were financially humiliated out of joblessness and price hikes. Not very distant neighbors of Egypt, two other African countries, Somalia and Ethiopia has a budget of respectively US$ 11 million and US$ 4.6 million and this man alone have more than $70 billion! Mub­arak’s son Gamal was ­reported to have been partying at London nightclub Tramp last weekend where a £16,000 champagne bill was said to have been run up and back home in Egypt people are starving and suffering from abject poverty. These alone speaks for the mindless inhumane greed and slavehood to the obsession with power that we often observe among rulers of our time. These must change, all corrupt government who are oppressors, tyrants must go, one by one.


Greed for more and more distracted you [from God].
Till you reached the grave. But you will soon come to know.
You will soon come to know.

Indeed, were you to know the truth with certainty,
you would see the fire of Hell.
You would see it with the eye of certainty.
Then on that Day you shall be questioned
about your worldly favours.

Those who deny the truth claim that they will never be raised up again.
Say, ‘By my Lord, most surely you will be raised up again
and then you will be told of all that you have done;
and that is easy enough for God.’

Believe then in God and His Messenger, and in the light which
We have sent down. God is fully aware of all that you do.
When He shall gather you all for the Day of Gathering,
that will be the Day of loss and gain; and whoever believes in God
and does good deeds shall be forgiven their sins and admitted to
Gardens through which rivers flow, where they shall dwell
forever. That is the supreme triumph.

But those who denied the truth and rejected Our signs
shall be the inmates of the Fire, there to remain - what an evil destination!

On that Day no soul shall suffer the least injustice.
You shall be rewarded only according to your deeds.

Fear God; surely, God is severe in retribution.
- Message of the Quran


May God help and aid every nation who long for true freedom, justice and peace. Indeed success and victory is with God and by God.


# Related Resources:
* Al Jazeera Indepth Coverage
* How Social Media Accelerated the Uprising in Egypt
* Egypt's Uprising: How One Young Man Found the Revolution
* Role of Facebook activism in Egypt Uprising
* Global Voice coverage on Egypt
* Noam Chomsky: “This is the Most Remarkable Regional Uprising that I Can Remember”
* Egypt: The World Rejoices as Mubarak Resigns
* Google Exec and Facebook Activist Wael Ghonim
* Asmaa Mahfouz and the Youtube that helped spark the Egyptian Uprising
* Revolution in the Arab World
* 18 Days That Shook the World
* The Face of Egypt's Social Networking Revolution

New Links: related good reads
* Egypt and Human Rights in the Digital Age
* From An Israeli Prison to Tahrir Square: One Palestinian's Odyssey in a Middle East Ablaze
* Gutenberg of Arabia
* The Debate on Social Media and Revolutions: Reality Steps In
Feb 2011
* What makes a revolution succeed?
* Unblocking Syria's social media
* WATCH: Amy Goodman on Al Jazeera English EMPIRE: Social Networks, Social Revolution, are social networks triggering social revolution? And where will the next domino fall?
* How Technology, Social Media Is Making Life Hard for Dictators

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