Egyptian youth have known about blogs only for the past two years. However, statistics show that there are now approximately 40,000 blogs in Egypt, most of which were created in 2006. The popularity and influence of these blogs have exceeded public expectations, especially after controversy arose regarding several blogs. Archivists have rejected a proposed new law that would limit freedom on the Internet. However, some Egyptian intellectuals and professionals in the media believe that blogs and news sources on the Internet are not providing a sound mechanism for expression.
Blogger, Ahmed Eldirini, is a radio announcer for the online radio station, Tait Radio. Eldirini stated in an interview that the purpose of establishing his blog was, “as my own personal outlet.” Referring to the new so-called Internet law, Eldirini states, "Several governments seek to control the Internet, but the Internet has no identity and therefore we cannot define or restrict it. China has tried to enact laws to circumvent its use, but has failed.”
One of Egypt’s more prominent bloggers, Wail Abbas, who owns the blog, “Egyptian Awareness” and has received several international electronic journalism awards, states, “Initially I wrote merely personal notes and thoughts in my blog; however, in early 2004, I witnessed the political upheaval in Egypt and became interested in joining the demonstrations and taking pictures. I had a need to present these events.” Abbas was accused of filling his blog with cases of torture in Egyptian police stations, but denies this accusation. Abbas explains, “These allegations are incorrect. Between 2004 and 2006 I did not even touch on the issue of torture in my blog; instead, I concentrated on attempts to rig elections. That is until I received a video concerning torture by Officer Imad Al-Kabir. This issue created a sensation that was heightened by media attention and was ultimately the reason for my blog’s fame.” He adds, “I did not take into account any issues of standards concerning the blog. Instead, I focuse
A student, Talal Abdel Rahman, says, “Blogs have become an extraordinary means of expression. The blogger’s conscience is not subject to control by the authorities.”
Mona Nabih, a teacher, said, “The Internet is a means of free expression. Anyone can now set up a community, like Facebook, where their friends with like interests can join and post their views collectively.”
University graduate, Naglaa Hassan, says, “Internet radio and blogs have brought young people closer. Blogs heighten creativity and hold more credibility with audiences than print articles. Blogs are more readily received by young people because they rid them of any thoughts of restriction or external control.”
Dr. Mohammad Al-Baz, a media professor at Cairo University, offers his analysis of the phenomenon: “No one can describe the phenomenon of the proliferation of blogs negatively or positively because any phenomenon is the product of the collective needs of a society. Those young people who do not have other outlets to speak freely resort to blogs to express their views. This is a positive practice, especially when blogs monitor negative occurrences, such as torture and harassment, which happen in our society. Blogging has put the community on its toes and has forced it to take these issues seriously and consider the serious ramifications of not taking action concerning them.” “However,” Al-Baz continues, “some bloggers use obscene language and write without references or regard for empirical evidence. Newspaper writers have editors review what they write, but bloggers are not accountable; they need more standards and qualifications.” He also notes, “The Internet has impacted greatly the awareness of Egyptian youth. The important question, however, concerns whether blogging is capable of changing and moving toward more credible standards. The fact is that blogs and Internet radio, as we have experienced them up until now, have not lived up to their potential to offer sound and credible ways to express our opinions.”