The role of the Internet in the Libyan uprising

Abigail Hauslohner reports from “Free Libya”:

Tobruk is several hundred miles away from Benghazi, the first large epicenter of the revolt, and even farther from Tripoli, the Libyan capital. But local activists felt wired into the revolutions going on far beyond the borders of their nation, even though foreign newspapers were never for sale in Gaddafi’s Libya and websites were often blocked, says Gamal Shallouf, a marine biologist who has joined the newly fledged opposition. While the Internet has been down here since the revolution started, the regime’s inability to shut down new-media innovations entirely has been key to spreading Libya’s revolt.

“Generally, in Libya before this, there was no media,” explains Shallouf. “So if Tobruk made a revolution, [the government] would spend three to five days killing us and finish the revolution. Nobody in [larger nearby communities and cities] al-Baida or Darna or Benghazi would have heard about it. But now with al-Jazeera and Facebook and the media, all of Libya hears about the revolution and is with the revolution. They know about it. They think, ‘I am Libyan, this is my family, so I will go to the street to fight for them.’ ”

He and fellow Libyans had followed the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings on al-Jazeera and satellite Arabic-language news channels. He did his best, along with other Libyan activists, to internally circulate the videos he saw so that other Libyans could get a glimpse of what was happening on either side of their closed-off country. “After I got videos from the Internet, we sent them from Bluetooth to Bluetooth. Mostly videos of fighting in Egypt. I felt two things when I saw these videos: I felt sad. And then I wanted to make a revolution!”

Arab solidarity demos in Egypt condemn Gaddafi

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1 thought on “The role of the Internet in the Libyan uprising

  1. Norman

    How much blood has to flow, before these dictators realize that they are going to fall? It’s sad watching the way these are playing out. One thing that’s going to be crucial, is that change really replaces the totalitarian way of life in everyone of the countries that have deposed their leaders. The plutocracy are always waiting in the shadows to regain/maintain their greedy grip. It remains to be seen if the internet will prevent the return of the shadows to power or will it remove them for good? I find it hard to believe that with the speed these revolutions, that the planning wasn’t planned for and practiced over a longer time span. If this was the case, then the planners surely did their job well.

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