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The Arab Spring in Egypt, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1032

Essay

At the beginning of 2011, the world turned its attention on the Middle East, where the Arab Spring had begun. After only one month of violent street protests, Tunisia’s government was overthrown and President Ben Ali had to leave the country. Egypt needed even less in order to obtain their freedom: 17 days. The events that animated this one-year period did not stop at these two countries, as other countries in the region started to demand their rights and to refuse to compromise anymore (Nydell XIII). The media was quick to report the events of the Egyptian Arab Spring as they were taking place but there is clear bias in the manner in which they chose to write about this issue.

In Egypt, the escalating conflict was determined by Mubarak’s power abuse and its reign of terror. According to Lisa Anderson, Mubarak’s fell was determined by the decline of his government’s efficacy. The social media played a crucial role in mobilizing the population. Information concerning the demonstrations circulated on Facebook and Twitter while an entire guide of the protester was sent on mail (Beaumont).  After the intense communication through media, thousands of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square screaming out their demands. The main protest started on the 25th January 2011. The date was chosen because it was the Police Day. Decided to fight for their rights, the Egyptians were ready to sacrifice their own lives so that the lives of their people may become better (Kristof.).

The role of social media did not stop at the triggering of the events. Facebook and the other social networking were used in various ways by the protesters. In those days, everyone became a journalist. According to Howard and Hussain (2012), one of the main preoccupations of both police forces and protesters during the events was that of filming and taking pictures (119). Also, bloggers and online activists led the way for the protesters. One of the widely recognized leaders of the revolution was Wael Ghonim. In his article, Mohamed ElBaradei sketched Ghonim’s role in the revolution and praised him as a representative of Egyptian youth. Ghonim led a crucial role as an activist on Facebook, but he remained unknown until he was arrested on January 28th 2011. He was detained for 11 days until the moment when Google made pressures on the government to release its executive. This moment marked Ghonim’s emergence as the hero who made it all happen (El Baradei).

Numerous journalists reported the event. However, their views are either influenced by their ethnic origin, or by their own democratic values and  ideas of right and wrong. Though they should stop at reporting the events objectively, some journalists are not only subjectively reporting the events but are even trying to persuade the readers to see the events as they do. For example, reporting from Tahrir square in the days of the revolutions, Nicholas Kristof was clearly impressed by the protesters’ tenacity and tried to convey his support for the movement through the article. While the title itself is relevant in this respect, “We Are All Egyptians”, meaning that the entire world should share his concern, certain statements he made are even more biased. For example, he argued that “The lion-hearted Egyptians I met on Tahrir Square are risking their lives to stand up for democracy and liberty, and they deserve our strongest support — and, frankly, they should inspire us as well”. The author’s   persuasive tone is clear in this statement in which he asks the readers to support the Egyptians. Furthermore, he believes that they are an “inspiration” for the Western societies, which is again, a subjective affirmation.  Also, journalist Mohamed El Baradei is influenced by his ethnic backgrounds in the article he wrote for Time. The author’s bias is apparent in the last statement, “Thank you, Wael. Thank you to the Egyptian youth”, though his entire article is slightly subjective in the manner in which he portrays Ghonim as a hero.

An example of objectivity in talking about the events can be found however in Anderson and Beaumont’s articles. The writers used a neutral tone and did not seem to take any sides. They reported the facts objectively and did not make judgments regarding the events. In his article on the role of social media in the Arab Spring for example, Beaumont debunks one of the myth of the revolution in Tunisia, thus making it clear that he does not favor the revolutionaries: “ the story of a university graduate forced to sell fruit who killed himself when he could not even do that proved to be incendiary. Except one of the key facts wasn’t true. Bouazizi not only hadn’t been to university, he had not even completed his school baccalaureate”(Beaumont). The author thus kept a professional distance by talking about the phenomenon and not being engaged emotionally with his subject.

The Arab Spring in Egypt, an episode of what constituted one of the most import events in modern history took place under the eyes of the entire world.  The new media offered journalists the possibility to send information about the events as they were taking place, and the protesters themselves became amateur journalists and managed to let the people know and gain their support. This flow of information made it very difficult for the media to remain objective. Many journalists expressed their support for the movement, and even tried to persuade the readers to do the same.  Though some sources remained objective and presented both sides of the issue, subjectivity was widespread, especially because the protesters demanded the kind of rights and liberties priotected and promoted by the Western world.

Works Cited

Beautmont, Peter. ‘The Truth about Twitter, Facebook and the Uprisings in the Arab World’. The Guardian.2011. Web. 12.11.2012.

ElBaradei, Mohamed. ‘Wael Ghonim: Spokesman for a Revolution’.  Time. 2011. Web. 12. 11. 2012.

Howard, Philip and Hussain, Muzammil. Egypt and Tunisia. The Role of Digital Media.  . Liberation Technology: Social Media and the Struggle for Democracy. Ed. Larry Diamond and Mark Plattner 2012. Baltimore: john Hopkins University Press, 2012. Print.110-124.

Kristoff, Nicholas. We Are All Egyptian. New York Times. 2011. Web. 12.11.2012.

Nydell, Margaret. Understanding Arabs: A contemporary Guide to the Arab Society. Boston and London: Nicholas Brearly Publishing.2012. Print.

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