Cyberactivists Paving the Way for the Arab Spring: Voices from Egypt, Tunisia and Libya

Author(s) Mohammed El-Nawawy, Sahar Khamis
Contact Sahar Khamis, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA. E-mail: skhamis@umd.edu
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 6, Iss. 2, 2012, pp. 4-27
Published November 10, 2012
Type Article
Abstract The wave of Arab revolutions and uprisings that has been shaking all corners of the Arab Middle East since 2011 and that has come to be known as the Arab Spring owed a major portion of its success to online activism. The spark that ignited these revolutions in the offline world was ignited by the Arab cyberactivists’ well-coordinated campaigns, calling for the toppling of corrupt regimes in their home countries. These campaigns were launched through various forms of social media, such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Flicker with the goal of introducing drastic political changes and allowing for a higher margin of freedom in a region that has often been associated with autocracy and dictatorship. Three Arab countries in particular – Egypt, Tunisia and Libya – have witnessed sweeping transformations, leading to the ousting and court trials of members of their old regimes and the holding of democratic presidential and parliamentary elections. This study utilizes qualitative, on-the-field interviews with cyberactivists in these three countries to provide a unique perspective into how they have paved the way for a new era of openness and democratic reform in their respective countries.
Keywords Libya, citizen journalism, Arab Spring, public sphere, Egypt, activism, cyberactivism, democracy, authority, Tunisia, blogs, politics, civic engagement