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April 6 Movement

The April 6 Movement is a Facebook group which emerged as a catalyst for the political upheaval that led to the end of the government of Hosni Mubarak. Facebook is the third most popular website in Egypt [in terms of online visits], after Google and Yahoo. One in nine Egyptians has Internet access, and around nine percent of that group are on Facebook - a total of almost 800,000 members. Egyptians turn to social sites to vent their anger as well as organize protests.

The movement was started by young activists Ahmed Maher and Ahmed Salah in order to mobilize support for striking industrial workers El-Mahalla El-Kubra who planned a strike April 6, 2008. Activists called on participants to wear black and stay home the day of the strike. Bloggers and citizen journalists used Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, blogs and other new media tools to report on the strike, alert their networks about police activity, organize legal protection and draw attention to their efforts.

"Being the first youth movement in Egypt to use internet-based modes of communication like Facebook and Twitter, we aim to promote democracy by encouraging public involvement in the political process," Maher told Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in an interview. He called the movement a youth coalition and says they will support national icons like Mohammed ElBaradei and support the cause of the National Association for Change which is fighting for political reform. The movement said it is not a political party and that it will not contest elections.

foundation statement

Who are we?

We are a group of Egyptian Youth from different backgrounds, age and trends gathered for a whole year since the renewal of hope in 6 April 2008 in the probability of mass action in Egypt which allowed all kind of youth from different backgrounds, society classes all over Egypt to emerge from the crisis and reach for the democratic future that overcomes the case of occlusion of political and economic prospects that the society is suffering from these days. Most of us did not come from a political background, nor participated in political or public events before 6 April 2008 but we were able to control and determine our direction through a whole year of practice.

What do we want?

We want to reach to what all Egyptian intellectuals and all national political forces agreed upon from the necessity of Egypt passing by a period of transition and to be ruled by a public character which has been agreed upon for the sake of the nation, its dignity and establish the principles of democratic governance. And one of the most important features of that period is the release of public freedom and the rules of democratic political practice and the forming of political, social entities and others as soon as being notified.

Protests started on Tuesday, 25 January 2001, to protest poverty, rampant unemployment, government corruption and autocratic governance of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled the country for thirty years. These were the first protests on such a large scale to be seen in Egypt since the 1970s. The government responded by blocking twitter, which was being used by organizers to coordinate protests. Blocking Twitter not only enraged Egyptian citizens; it also brought increased national attention to the uprising. Over the course of the next two days, Egypt proceeded to block Facebook while the much-hated riot police took to the streets, arresting and injuring hundreds with batons, tear gas, and water cannons. With Twitter and Facebook down, email other social networking outlets fell as well. Text messaging was also blocked. Protestors and journalists began finding alternate means of getting online and pushing out information.

When officials wanted to shut down Internet service - they did it the easy way: They pulled a single switch. Wired.com says that the Egyptian government shut down most of the Internet service by pulling a switch in a data center located in Cairo. It had been speculated Egyptian officials had called ISPs, one after another. Word of their approach comes from information presented by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Infosec Technology Transition Council. In a DHS presentation, Bill Woodcock, research director of the Packet Clearing House, says, "the Egyptian Communications Ministry acted quite responsibly in the procedure it used to cut ties from the net, after the shutdown was ordered by Egypt's much-feared intelligence service," Wired.com reports.

In details obtained by Wired.com, it showed that on Jan. 25, the State Security Intelligence Service ordered the blocking of Twitter. On Jan. 26, the State Security Intelligence Service ordered the blocking of Facebook. By Jan. 28, all of the large ISPs were offline. By Feb. 2, Internet service was restored. By Feb. 5 all SMS services were restored.

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