A year ago in Tahrir Square

The time difference meant that when I woke up on Friday January 28th of last year, Tahrir was already ablaze. I remember waking up that day and immediately reading the news. Watching the events unfold threw me in an emotional roller coaster that did not end for weeks.

I spent that day glued to my laptop, shifting from watching different news channels, to getting more news from mainstream media sites, Facebook and Twitter. I vaguely remember not eating that day. I knew that Egyptians had taken to the streets since January 25th, I had even received Facebook invites for that day. I saw the masses of people chanting for Mubarak to leave. But nothing would prepare me for that Friday when things took a very violent turn, generating shock waves across Egypt and the World.

In the following days, I put aside my thesis and spent almost every waking hour following the news. I even made it through NYC’s snow and cold to the rallies that the Egyptian community had organized. I went to every possible talk On-Campus, Off-Campus, Uptown, Downtown that discussed Egypt and the ‘Arab Spring’.

Then on that fateful day, February 11th, Mubarak was gone, or at least no longer President. I was overjoyed, thrilled! Filled with hope for a better future in Egypt, yet wary of the consequences of a military take over and a well organized Muslim Brother hood…

Since Mubarak’s resignation much has happened: a national referendum, a Parliamentary election, more clashes in Tahrir and Maspiro, a lot more civilian deaths and thousands of arrests. What was a moment of triumph for the young Egyptian revolutionaries started to look more like an ongoing battle for their freedom. Today, a year later, we know that this revolution is far from over.

After spending 4 years in Egypt, I left it with a heavy heart knowing that I will always remain connected to that place. Seeing the images of Egyptians fighting for their freedom from the same Tahrir I passed through on a daily basis made this revolution even more personal to me. I truly hope that the Egyptian people succeed in what they went out to accomplish, and because it has taken them years to arrive to this moment, something tells me they’re not about to back down any time soon.

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Global day of rage for Syria

Today is the international day of solidarity with the people of Syria. It has been ten months since the Syrian people first started their revolt against the Syrian regime that has since killed thousands of its own people.

In support of the Syrian people and their fight for justice, a group of Palestinian activists and youth have published a statement (below). Having done research for a project focusing on citizen media in Syria, I had to watch hours of footage coming out of Syria since the start of the revolution. As a result, I have one thing to say: This horrifying bloodshed needs to end!

Palestinians for Syria

21/01/12 is the Global Day Of Rage For Syria

A peaceful revolution…a revolution against foreign intervention…a revolution against sectarianism and factions.This is the revolution of the Syrian people we know.

For ten months now the Syrian people have marched towards freedom and we have no doubt that they will achieve their liberation. For this reason we see it as a duty to warn them of the dangers of foreign intervention and to express our support for their peaceful revolution against sectarianism and factions.

For ten months the Syrian people have marched steadily towards freedom, despite the criminal oppression of Bashar al-Assad’s regime which uses weapons against its own people, instead of using them to liberate their occupied land, and despite the disagreements among their representatives whom the people gave trust in.

For ten months the Syrian people have marched towards freedom as martyr after martyr is sacrificed, which has only strengthened their resolve and steadfastness to continue their march.

For ten months the Syrian people have marched towards freedom as the world analyzes the meanings behind slogans raised in protests, and satellite channels have garnered more viewers with the increase in bloodshed and murders. The media sells to its viewers talks of a conspiracy or of a civil war, and many powers, sells us their support to freedom or democracy in the Middle East, when they never did. We are confident that these plots will fail and be crushed under the feet of the Syrian Arab People.

Ten months and we have avoided watching the disfigured bodies and the brave women who do not fear facing the live ammunition. Ten months and we chose which channel to hear from about the news of 30, 70, 100 martyrs of Syria, which made us ashamed from our miserable show of solidarity, as at the end of every day dozens of families lose their sons and daughters, with seemingly no one to share their pain with.

We, Palestinian activists and bloggers, on the Global Day of Rage for Syrian Revolution, stress our support for the brave revolutionary Syrians. We strongly reject manipulating the Palestinian cause as a cover under which the Syrian martyrs’ bodies are brushed under and stamped upon by Bashar al-Assad’s regime. It is true we must think logically about the dynamics of the Syrian revolution, but we must put the overwrought analyses aside, because the cost is the blood of our Syrian brothers and sisters. We reiterate our support for the peaceful Syrian revolution and its rejection of foreign intervention amidst the threats of sectarianism, as without our solidarity and faith we have no right in theorizing and preaching to the Syrians who are being murdered one after the other.

SOPA and PIPA to be shelved!

The voices of the Internet community have been heard! The White House finally issued a statement stating that they will not support both SOPA and PIPA, as they currently stand. This lead Congress to shelve both bills (for the time being).

This has come as a result of mass campaigns fighting against both bills. These bills have been labeled “a violation of freedom of speech and a form of censorship” by many, including big players in the Tech world. In fact tomorrow a number of websites including Wikipedia, BoingBoing and Reddit will be participating in a one-day blackout to protest SOPA and PIPA.

To understand how PIPA and SOPA would work I would recommend watching this video:

Based on the explanation on the video, the Internet will never be the same. Crowd sourcing and Start ups will suffer a major blow as result of both bills. I’m hoping that the decision to shelve these bills will be permanent, and we all continue the fight towards our freedom on the Internet.

The hacking war between Israel and Palestine rages on

Today I noticed the hashtag #HackerOmar trending on my Twitter feed. I instantly opened my news feed and yes it was as expected the ‘Saudi’ hacker 0xOmar strikes again. Almost two weeks ago the same hacker published information of tens of thousands of Israeli credit cards. This time 0xOmar decided to target the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange and El-Al websites.

These cyber-attacks are nothing new, if you recall my previous post on the Internet going down in Palestine (although some may dispute it was a result of a cyber-attack). Israel and Palestine have engaged in a cyber-war for over a decade now. I recall writing a paper over two years ago about the hacking war between Pro-Israelis and Pro-Palestinians during the Gaza Offensive of 2008/2009, and while doing the research for the paper it came to my attention that this war spans back to over a decade.

This recent hacking incident is merely an escalation in a continuing cyber war between Israel and Palestine. However, this war is part of a larger global cyber-war that has seen many players join, yet the sides still remain blurry. The results of this war remain unknown, even though indications strongly point towards the fact that Internet users stand to lose their freedoms online.