From The Weekend Read:
Anderson Cooper 360 Interview With the “Google Ghandi”, Wael GhonimFrom The Huffington Post:
BLITZER: Wael, this is Wolf Blitzer in Washington. So first Tunisia, now Egypt. What’s next?
GHONIM: Ask Facebook.
BLITZER: Ask what?
BLITZER: Facebook. You’re giving Facebook a lot of credit for this?
GHONIM: Yes, for sure. I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him, actually. This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook. You know, I always said that if you want to liberate a society, just give them the Internet. If you want to have a free society, give them the Internet.
The Islamists did not instigate these protests in Tunisia or Egypt. In Tunisia, the agent provocateur was a young merchant who immolated himself in protest against the indignity and injustice meted out by local officials. In Egypt, it was a group of secular 20-30 year old internet-savvy Egyptians fed-up with the status quo in which Egyptians were treated as though they were servants to the pharaoh. They wanted to reclaim their role as citizens - that is, as owners of the land and of the public space.
From al Jazeera:
The so-called "Facebook revolution" is not about people mobilising in virtual space; it is about Egyptian internet cafes and the youth and women they represent, in real social spaces and communities, utilising the cyberspace bases they have built and developed to serve their revolt.
Internet is for Arabs what cafés were for the French in 1789, an open space where aggrieved citizens can share their frustrations and work together towards an alternative. Social media did not cause the protests in Egypt and Tunisia, but it facilitated them.