Tag: egypt

Egyptian blogger gets 15 years in clink

A prominent blogger, who was a key figure in Egypt’s 2011 uprising has been sentenced to 15 years jail for organising a demonstration online.

Alaa Abdel-Fatah has the honour of being arrested by each of Egypt’s five leaders since Mubarak. He was one of the activists most associated with the 2011 uprising that briefly ended 60 years of autocratic rule, and was sentenced to 15 years in jail for allegedly organising a protest.

According to Abdel-Fatah’s sister, Mona Seif, also a prominent campaigner, he and another activist were sentenced in absentia after being barred from entering the courtroom then arrested and taken to prison by some of the officials who had earlier blocked his entrance.

Seif wrote on Facebook that Abdel-Fatah was “waiting for the judge to give permission to the guards to allow them to enter the venue to attend their session, but instead someone from the prosecution went out and arrested them”.

The weird thing was that Abdel-Fatah had no role in the protest against military trials that he is accused of organising. It just seems that the military wanted him locked up.

In April more than 20 policemen raided Abd El-Fattah’s home, broke the door down, and proceeded to confiscate the family’s computers and mobile phones. When Alaa asked to see the arrest warrant, the police beat him and his wife up.

In prison there are several well-known revolutionary leaders including Mahienour el-Masry, who led protests against police violence in 2010 that set the stage for the 2011 uprising and Ahmed Maher, the co-founder of the 6 April youth movement who also inspired anti-Mubarak demonstrations

Abd El Fattah was jailed under Mubarak, the military junta that succeeded him, and Adly Mansour, the interim president installed after the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi last summer. Under Morsi, Abd El Fattah escaped prison, but was placed under investigation. 

Egyptian navy comes to the rescue of the internet

The Egyptian navy has once more succeeded in stopping the Sea People cutting off Egypt from the outside world.

According to the Washington Post, Egypt’s naval forces captured three scuba divers who were trying to cut an undersea internet cable in the Mediterranean.

While telecommunications executives blamed a weeklong internet slowdown on damage caused to another cable by a ship, it seemed that there might have been something else happening.

Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali told his Facebook friends that divers were arrested while “cutting the undersea cable” of the country’s main communications company, Telecom Egypt.

They were arrested on a speeding fishing boat just off what is left of the wonder of the world in Alexandria.

Ali’s page had a photo showing three young men, apparently Egyptian, staring up at the camera in what looks like an inflatable launch. It did not have details on who the men were or why they would have wanted to cut a nice cable.

Egypt has been suffering outages since March 22. Telecom Egypt executive manager Mohammed el-Nawawi told CBC that the damage was caused by a ship, and there would be a full recovery on Thursday. Of course it could have been another attack by the three which was designed to look like a ship. If you manage to take out enough cables in that region the whole of the Middle East will be porn free.

It’s not the first time cable cuts have affected the Middle East in recent years. Errant ships’ anchors are often blamed. Serious undersea cable cuts caused widespread internet outages and disruptions across the Middle East on two separate occasions in 2008. 

Egyptians decide Open Source is the Sphinx's bollocks

Open Sauce appears to be a major victor of the Arab Spring which led to a change of leadership in Egypt.

It appears that the nation which worked out how to build the world’s largest public building with just copper tools, has decided that proprietary software is a bad thing.

Egypt is apparently drawing up plans to cast out the Voles, Oracles, Apples and other followers of Apep, into the Lands of the West in favour of a decent open sauce plan for its public software projects.

Hani Mahmoud, Minister of Communications and Information Technology made the decision as the government had to mull over the renewal of its partnership agreement with Microsoft.

Vole rules the people of Khem, as Set did after usurping the rule of Osiris. Now it seems that the Children of Egypt see open sauce as their Horus who will free them from the reign of the evil Pharoah Seth-Ballmer.

But he promised that this would be short term as the government was splashing out on encouraging the development of Open Sauce centres.

This includes the shift to cloud operations and training people to come up with business ideas packed full of open saucy goodness.

Apparently there will also be a plan to educate people about the wonders of open source software and free software.

While it is not bringing heaven on earth yet, it seems that the Egyptians are heading towards Amenti in the future. 

Smart chip inventor, Roland Moreno, dies

The man who invented the computer chip used on smart cards, Roland Moreno, has died.

According to La RepubblicaMoreno was 29 when he first patented the idea for a miniature circuit board that could hold secure electronic data.

His idea changed shopping, commuting, banking and passports and paved the way for the mobile phone in 1974.

It was in France where his idea first caught on. They used the card’s security measures as part of the Carte Bleue debit card system. While this was great for the French, it caused all sorts of problems for foreign tourists whose banks still used magnetic strips.

France Télécom used the chip for its Télécarte cards for use in pay phones.

Born in Egypt, Moreno was a self-taught electonics engineer and came up with all sorts of ideas but it seems that the smart chip was his best out of his 49 patents.

Needless to say there were loads of people who claimed they invented it, and he had to defend the idea in court. By the time his patent ended in 1994 it had earned him and his company Innovatron nearly €150 million.

The security on the chip has managed to weather the test of time. In 2000 he offered 150,000 if anyone could crack the code in three months. The money was never claimed.

A father of two, he said in an interview recently that he wished someone had made a waxwork of him and said he wanted people to say of him: “God owes much to Johan-Sebastian Bach, I want it to be said that the French owe much to Moreno.” 

Vodafone to meet with human rights groups

Vodafone has pledged to meet human rights groups to talk about how it can prevent its networks being hijacked by repressive regimes.

The British telco got into hot water after it was forced to send out pro-government messages and shut down its network by the Egyptian government last year.

According to the Herald Scotland the meeting is a result of the grilling that Vodafone was given at yesterday’s annual meeting in London.

Brett Solomon, director of lobby group Access, asked the outfit what it was going to do to prevent a repeat of the situation.

Vodafone customers were sent pro-government messages including the following call: “To every mother-father-sister-brother, to every honest citizen preserve this country as the nation is forever.” We get something similar but it usually asks us to change our phone tariff.

Outgoing Vodafone chairman Sir John Bond said the outfit had no discretion to negotiate variations. Network operators were subject to similar legal provisions to those used in Egypt earlier this year. Any process to elaborate a new approach to human rights and communications must involve governments as well as industry and NGOs.

However he did say that the company would meet Access as “respect for human rights forms part of our assessment of any market into which we move our operations”.

We have to wonder what standards the outfit is using. Vodafone operates in Bahrain, China and Malaysia. Bahrain has a history of shutting down mobile services. Malaysia equally is a big fan of censorship as is China.

Access wants telecoms companies to agree crisis protocols with governments. These should ensure users can make emergency calls at all times, that calls and emails are not hacked, that networks are shut down for minutes or hours rather than days and that carriers cannot be used to disseminate propaganda.

Bond is being replaced by Gerard Kleisterlee, the former chief executive of Dutch electronics firm Philips. It is the first time that Vodafone’s two most senior leaders are not British. Chief executive Vittorio Colao is Italian. 

Russia blames Google for Egyptian revolution

Russia is pointing the finger at Google claiming that it’s responsible for causing the trouble in the Egyptian revolution, which eventually saw the departure of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

Speaking in an interview with the WSJ, Russian deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said: “Look what they have done in Egypt, those highly-placed managers of Google, what manipulations of the energy of the people took place there.”

We assume Sechin was referring to Google executive, Wael Ghonim, who became a key figure in the Egyptian escapade.  

Ghonim was in Cairo for a conference when protests broke out over the country’s failing economic policy, government corruption, and the 30-year reign of President Hosni Mubarak. He first made headlines in late January when reports emerged that he had gone missing.
Google later confirmed that this was the case and he quickly became a spokesperson for the April 6 youth opposition group in Egypt before being released after more than a week.

Being part of Google, the exec wasn’t shy in coming forward and telling the world that he was the one who had created the Facebook group that has been instrumental in the ongoing movement in the country.

Although Sechin did not elaborate any further, his comments may begin to stir up questions about what role the internet has in both Russia and in the Arab world.

It’s no secret some Arab states, previously including Egypt and Libya, censor the material their citizens can access, but Russia in contrast has a fairly relaxed policy, even though it is used to moan about the head honchos in politics. This, could however change given Sechin’s views and Russian citizens could find themselves behind a wall.

Egyptian couple names baby "Facebook"

Johnny Cash sang about a Boy Named Sue, but a couple in Egypt have chosen to call their first born “Facebook“.

The baby girl was named after Facebook in tribute to the part it played in the Egyptian revolution where Mubarak was eventually toppled.

Egyptians used the website to organise protests in Tahrir Square, which contributed to the eventual departure of president Hosni Mubarak. They also turned to the internet, especially Facebook and Twitter, to authentically air outrage and connect protestors. An army of bloggers also helped lobby for their rights.

Now, Jamal Ibrahim has honoured – and shown his gratitude –  to Mark Zuckerburg’s site by naming his first born girl after it. “Bebo” or “Myspace” were not considered.

According to the Ahram newspaper, Facebook is already a bit of a celebrity with family, friends, neighbours crowding around to voice their support. Vive la Facebóók!

Watchdog wants Egypt style internet revolution in US

An organisation is questioning whether an internet revolution, similar to the one made in Egypt would help kick off a debate and boot out the US’s money hungry corporations.

The Consumer Watchdog is wondering if the same social media rules could start a peaceful revolution in America against the Wall Street and corporate powerhouses, which it claims  have turned the government against the best interests of its people.

It wants to use the internet in the same way as the Egyptian people did, claiming that the revolution in Cairo showed the power of online platforms like Twitter and Facebook to authentically air outrage and connect change makers. An army of bloggers also helped lobby for their rights.

Of course this didn’t go down too well as Egypt’s internet was largely shut down. However by that time news of the demonstrations had already gone around the world and back again. The speed of information thanks to the internet and social media is what ensured the news of the protests went global in minutes.

Now the Consumer Watchdog wants people to use the internet in the same way to bring down corporations. However, it says there is still a huge fight to protect peoples freedom online. Once again it says that this is because of the corporations, which created these platforms.

According to the corporation the abuse of corporate power makes people’s blood boil.
The 2008 election was supposed to settle the score with Wall Street and the corporate elite but the organisation claims that the change never came. It also points out that there is nearly no chance of it happening this year or in 2012.

Consumer Watchdog has clearly been moved by what is describes as the “heroism of the Egyptian people.

“We are inspired by their example,” it said in a newsletter.


US opens Twitter account in Arabic

The US State Department has just launched a Twitter account which tweets messages solely in Arabic.

It is thought that the account, which is the department’s first foray into Arabic language micro-blogging, is driven by the recent uprising in the Middle East which is widely considered to have been, in part at least, spurred on by the free flow of information on social media services like Facebook and Twitter.

If you’ll excuse our reliance on Google Translate, a tweet says something about the: “historic role played media in the Arab world and we want to be a part of your conversations.

Further posts, which began earlier today, once again put forward President Obama’s point of view that “ultimately the future of the Egyptian people is in the hands of the Egyptian people,” as well as from US Vice-President Joe Biden to stop the harassment of the Egyptian people.

The Twitter account, named USA bilAraby meaning “USA in Arabic”, is supporting the “formal interface with the U.S. and Arab media US Department of State Arabic Media Hub”.

The account, which currently has 159 followers, can be found here.

Vodafone accuses Egypt's Mubarak of sending propaganda texts

Vodafone has accused the Egyptian government of employing its mobile network to send unattributed pro-government text messages, while there are also concerns over some of its staff in the country.

Vodafone was one of three mobile phone companies that was instructed to send out text messages since protests broke out over a week ago against the leadership of President Mubarak, who has been in power for 30 years.

Vodafone was ordered to disable its services as part of a country-wide clampdown on internet and mobile communication, but it says the company was told to re-enable its network to send out government-sanctioned messages before disabling it again.

Reuters reported that it has seen one of these text messages, from February 2, which gave the details of the location and time of a pro-Mubarak rally.

Vodafone said that it made it clear to the Egyptian government that text messages should be transparent and it should be clear who sent them. It said that these messages were not written by the mobile network operators and it could not respond to authorities on their content.

The situation may be even grimmer than just the unattributed text messages, as Vodafone has also reported that one of its engineers in Egypt had been seriously engineered, while another is missing.

Vodafone’s data services are back online today, but its text message service remains offline. The country’s internet was restored yesterday after Mubarak promised he would not run for re-election in September.

“The current situation regarding these messages is unacceptable,” Vodafone said.