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Thursday, May 18, 2006

blog from prison.

On May 10, Alaa Ahmed Seif al-Islam, the award-winning blogger detained three days earlier for participating in peaceful protests in Cairo, became one of the first people to blog from prison.

“Today it hit me,” Alaa began his post, “I am really in prison. I’m not sure how I feel…The way fellow prisoners look at me tells me I do not feel well but I can’t really feel it.”

Thanks in part to an energetic campaign in the Egyptian, Arab, and international blogosphere, his detention has already helped call attention to the Egyptian government’s recent crackdown on dissent. Soon after Alaa’s detention, a handful of bloggers from around the world began a group blog dedicated to campaigning for his release. Andy Carvin, a Massachussets-based blogger created a video urging bloggers to participate in a “Google-bombingcampaign to associate Alaa’s name with “Egypt” in Google’s databases. Others began work on a Wikipedia page on Alaa. Shohdy Naguib Sorour—in exile in Russia since 2002, when he became the first Egyptian to face prosecution for his online activities—urged Russian bloggers to get involved. Sandmonkey started a successful online petition (and found he was getting a lot of online visits from the Egyptian government thereafter).

The international press penned stories. International rights groups Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch issued statements. People gathered for protests in front of Egyptian consulates in big American cities. Meanwhile, the comments on Manalaa.net, the blog Alaa and his wife Manal maintain, continue to show an outpouring of support from within Egypt and around the world.

Sandmonkey, referring to a few of the international posts seemed astounded by the response from the “one blogging world:”

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