“An Angry Voice” is silenced in Egypt. Here’s why you should care.

February 20, 2009 at 3:40 am Leave a comment

For those of us who use interactive media to sell mayonnaise, beer and toilet bowl cleaners, it is easy to forget the political role of the technology–and specifically of blogging–in the developing world. By democratizing the tools of mass communication, the internet has given voices to those who were formerly silenced by repressive regimes that control the press.

When historians look back in 500 years, there is a good chance that bloggers will be recognized at the Jeffersons and Paines of our time–which is why it is disturbing to read a Reuters report on the arrest of yet another Egyptian blogger, Dia Eddin Gad. His blog, “An Angry Voice” is noted for its criticism of Egypt’s Gaza policy and President Hosni Mubarak.

“Dia Eddin Gad, 22, was detained on February 6 outside his home in the Nile Delta province of Gharbiya by security men who beat him as he screamed to his mother for help,” according to a statement released by Amnesty International. See the full story here.

Consider for a moment how terrifying it must be to live in a place where you can be arrested and very probably tortured (I will not provide a link to the oft-seen videos of the torture that goes on in Egyptian jails, though you can find them easily enough if you desire) for what you think.

Bill Bernbach said:

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.”

Sometimes lifting it to a higher level takes an extraordinary amount of courage–the kind of courage Dia Eddin Gad has shown by the simple act of saying what he believes. Let us remember that and also remember the extraordinary power of the tools in our hands when next we sit down to ply our craft.

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Note to Mark Zuckerberg: Provoking 175 million people is a bad idea. Will Rogers never met an ad man he liked.

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