March 30, 2005
MORE PROTESTS FOR DEMOCRACY in the Arab world:
In this roiling political spring of protest and debate about democracy in repressive Arab countries, cell phone text messaging has become a powerful underground channel of free and often impolite speech, especially in the oil-rich Persian Gulf monarchies, where mobile phones are common but candid public talk about politics is not.
Demonstrators use text messaging to mobilize followers, dodge authorities and swarm quickly to protest sites. Candidates organizing for the region’s limited elections use text services to call supporters to the polls or slyly circulate candidate slates in countries that supposedly ban political groupings. And through it all, anonymous activists blast their adversaries with thousands of jokes, insults and political limericks.
Ah yes: “There once was a man from Yemen . . .”