May 29, 2006

HERE’S AN ASSOCIATED PRESS STORY on imprisoned Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah:

The 24-year-old Abdel-Fattah’s blog, which he does with his wife Manal Hassan, has become one of the most popular pro-democracy voices in Egypt. He has continued writing despite being arrested in early May during a street demonstration in Cairo — part of a crackdown on reform activists by Egyptian security forces.

“We covered the walls of our cell with graffiti of our names and slogans and Web site addresses,” Abdel-Fattah wrote one time, referring to himself and fellow imprisoned activists. “We chanted and sang and the mood was great.” . . .

The duo call their blog Manalaa, a combination of their first names. Young, secular and anti-authoritarian, they link the blogosphere with a democracy movement demanding reform from President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power longer than they have been alive.

Their blog, launched two years ago and written in a mixture of English and Arabic, is an Internet rallying point for activists in a nation where state-run media predominate and give little voice to reformers.

It posts announcements of planned demonstrations, political commentary, even photos — with names — of plainclothes security agents notorious for beating protesters. In March, the couple used their blog to organize a sit-in, where more than 100 protesters slept in a downtown Cairo square.

Read the whole thing, which suggests that the effort to silence Alaa has backfired. I’ve written more on the topic here, too. And Extreme Mortman has further thoughts on the freedom-blogging phenomenon:

On this Memorial Day, it’s thrilling and heartening to see the battle for democracy being fought on the Internet, not on bloody battlefields. Cheers to all blogging on the front lines.

Indeed.