By Mohamed Kharbach
By Mohamed Kharbach
Halifax, Canada – The year 2011 has undoubtedly marked an unforgettable placemark in the timeline of the Arab history. Even in our wildest dreams, the idea that some Arab nations would raise against its governors was far-fetched. It is true that there is no smoke without fire but the real start of what is termed the Arab Spring dates back to the Wiki leaks reports on the corruption, misappropriation of the public funds, torture, abusive arrests, obscure assassinations and many other hideous acts perpetrated by officials under the auspices of their own governing bodies.
This chain of continuous leaks have taken the Arabs aback and before they even know it they started looking hither and thither for ways to feed their growing curiosity and quench their mounting thirst for information . And since the official media outlets of all Arab countries (which are but ever-present-loud-speakers of their governments’ policies that are enormously disfavored by Wikileaks reports) could not cover up news of such enormity, citizens ‘ craving to learn more was left with one single option, which is Internet and this is exactly the point where social networking websites came into play.
In their attempt to resist the imposition of a news and information blackout, netizens found themselves at the heart of a political turmoil that has swept over the whole region starting from Tunisia and now taking a pause in Syria before continuing its unstoppable trail to other neighboring destinations. People, particularly the young who have long used the net just for socializing purposes have changed their attitude towards what they are sharing on their pages and profiles. Instead of posting a silly chronology of the things one did over the weekend, they would instead share newsy tips and tidbits about scandalous affairs of renowned political figures. Facebook pages defending the freedom cause have exponentially proliferated waving red flags for the authoritative regimes that are trying their best to suppress unwanted news and information.
It is thanks to netizens that Tunisians learned about the street vendor who set himself on fire in Sidi Bouzind and Egyptians Learned about Khaled Said, the young netizen who was mercilessly tortured and beaten to death by police outside an Alexandria Internet cafe. Yes it was thanks to social networks that these news stories went viral online for millions of people to read and share with each other setting thus the cornerstones of the Arab Spring. With millions of users having free and unlimited access to a plethora of such social networking websites, all it takes is one call for a protest on a Facebook page, a YouTube video, or a tweet to make all the difference.
After Ben Ali fled the country, a journalist asked Ghaddafi about ‘Facebookers’ in Libya and if they constituted any danger to his long standing authoritarian regime. He laughed sarcastically and nodded his head in such a way to denote mockery and disdain and said ‘ This is just Kids gibber’. What he initially taught of as kids gibber was actually the start of his end. The despot of Egypt, thinking that he had learned the lesson from what happened in Tunisia , tried to act smartly by outrooting the source of his looming danger. He drowned Cairo and other major cities into a total blackout with no Internet service or phone availability for a whole day. Again netizens proved to be at the level of the event. They quickly figured out smarter ways to use Twitter and get their communication going and you know the end of his story.
We would definitely have never learned about the bloodshed in Syria hasn’t it been for the use of popular social networking websites such as Facebook and YouTube. It is thanks to these outlets that the world is condemning Syrian regime and its severe crackdown on peaceful protesters. Moroccan’s peaceful transition towards democracy is also acclaimed to netizens’ hard work in sensibilizing people and arising the public awareness to certain pressing political demands via the use of Facebook, YouTube and to a lesser extent Twitter. As a Moroccan citizen I feel that as much as I am proud of those guys behind this huge and positive agitation in my country I am also thankful that the change has been peaceful and that feelings of patriotism will always reign over any other considerations.
Mohamed Kharbach is a Canadian Certified Teacher working in Tri-County Regional School Board.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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