Throughout the reading I was able to understand what “We are all Khaled Said” meant and what it represented to the people in Egypt. Majority of the youth in Egypt is growing up in a dysfunctional country were there are great scales of unemployment, drug abuse, poor quality education, and a corrupt legal system. As stated in the article Distorting Digital Citizenship, 62% of the population in Egypt is under twenty nine years old.
Many social media outlets have helped enabled uprising in many countries experiencing inhuman behavior towards citizens. One of the important movements in Egypt that spread rapidly would be “We are all Khaled Said” through the social network of Facebook. This movement helped the youth fight back the abuse they were receiving from the police through the incident of Alexandrian Khaled Said whom was beaten to death by police. Khaled Said was an indirect symbol who was able to represent the youth because he was easily relatable and his incident evolved the movement aimed towards the Emergency Law. Through this law, police powers were not limited, there was censorship, and citizens had no rights. The WAAKS allowed the starting of other small social media that address various of other issues Egypt faced such as sexual assault, marriage, drugs, etc. This aided the youth in seeing how important and influential social networks can be and recognizing the power it can have within their youth culture.
Khaled Said had a history of drug abuse and being problematic. He may not have been an ideal heroic symbol but he helped advance a rebellion against Hosni Mubarak former president would was eventually thrown over. Although there are still many remaining problems in Egypt to be faced this has helped spread awareness within the youth. Many are still hopefully that the youth will be more politically inclined and use the readily available and cheap forms such as the media and internet to gather together toward their human rights.
When I read an article about social movements and mobilization in the Middle East, I was unsure at first of the terminology the author was describing. Things like what was SMI stand for? What are these social movements ultimate end goal is? Are these movements on a massive scale spanning multiple countries or only informally organized on the local level of different regions across one country? What are the kinds of consequences that would result if individuals decide to rise and create change in their government? But while reading this article the biggest question that came to mind is this: If these social movement groups are successful in some way in making innovative change, will it be long lasting for future generations to appreciate or will it only last for a generation of people?
As I read some of my immediate questions were quickly answered. An aspect I learned from this article is the two different overall approaches to making long lasting change in their home countries, run by these regimes with strict rules and regulations that limit the freedoms of some or all people that live under them. One approach is the use of non-violence, commonly expressed in online social media campaigns like “Black Lives Matter” raising awareness of police brutality towards black people in America. Another example of expressing non-violence to make change is the use of protest/peaceful assembly. I think this a great first step for any social movement to start getting the word out to the general public. But, it also has some potential consequences for those actions. An example of this was a group in Egypt called EOHR took over and protested in a steel factory. But was shortly ended when police forces coming in to stop and or detain protesters. Sadly one of the protesters were killed during the struggle. Than on the other hand is the use of actual violence. The most common way to express this option for social change is the use of defacing/destroying private or public property and possibly harming others associated with the regime a.k.a. riots.
So in conclusion do I believe that one approach is better than the other? I don’t think so, all I know is this: this region of the world has been in conflict in some shape or form for more than a decade now. On the idea of people having basic human rights like freedom to vote, peaceful assembly and due process. As well as the ultimate question in how are these people in these oppressive regimes will get the freedom they deserve.
Although one of the articles mentioned that the Facebook campaign did not portray Khaled Said as he really was, I was surprised to find so many differences in his portrayal when comparing the two scholarly articles. David Faris writes that Said “appeared to be a clean-cut businessman with no prior police record” (Faris, 2013, 12) and thereby only mentions the public image that was created in the “We Are All Khaled Said” campaign. Ali and El-Sharnouby, however, state that Said was not as two-dimensional as he appeared in the media. While he was the ordinary, warmhearted guy that the media portrayed him to be, he also served time in military prison for not completing his military service and consumed illegal drugs.
In showing this more comprehensive image of Said, Ali and El-Sharnouby manage to show how the campaign managed to gain that many followers and they reveal its strengths and weaknesses. In Faris’ article, Said appears to be the guy the media portrays him to be and therefore the text only offers an incomplete understanding. Faris furthermore makes Said appear to have died because of his social media activities (uploading a sousveillance video), whereas Ali and El-Sharnouby claim that Khaled Said was sold out to and beaten up by the police after being lured into buying drugs and going to a cybercafé by a friend. Which story is made public about Said’s death makes an important difference about how he is perceived and how unjust his murder appears. Of course killing someone is never right, but the less outraged reactions of the people who knew about Said’s life and drug-consumption show that he might not have become such a unifying figure for protest if people did not perceive him as a person with a clean slate. His death might not have appeared as unwarranted to them as the death of an activist trying to fight injustice.
I furthermore found it very interesting that both articles claim different people to be the creators of the Facebook campaign. According to Faris, the creator was Google executive Wael Ghonim whereas Ali and El-Sharnouby attribute the role of creator to cyberactivist Abdelrahman Mansour, but also mention that Ghonim played an important role. However, the “We Are All Khaled Said” Facebook site itself states: “This page does NOT represent Khaled Said’s family and is NOT run by Wael Ghonim. It has been created and always been run by other administrators.” So is the information given in the articles simply wrong or does Ghonim’s participation have to be denied officially for his own protection?