April Esraa Abdel-Fattah, founder of the Facebook group known as “6 April: A Nationwide Strike” was finally released from jail after being held for sixteen days. She masterminded the April 6 demonstration organized via Facebook that was designed to peacefuly protest against risng food prices. She told reporters that henceforth, she would not participate in any form of “virtual activity.” Her uncle said that Ms. Fattah no longer had a computer. April Fattah originally was detaned on April 7 and two days later authorities said she would be released, but the Interior Ministry overruled that decision and kept her in jail for an additional two weeks.
Her imprisonment transformed Ms. Fattah into a heroine among Egypt’s youthful population. There are now rumors the Mubarak government is planning to block, or at least strictly monitor, the Facebook pages that have become a tool in political protest. Amr Elshobaki of the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies, said “it is unwise, not to say impossible, to deal wih Egypt’s virtual community with the same security-minded mindset the state uses in confronting on-the-ground challenges” since “the pages that are closed can easily be re-loaded on other sites.” There are now hundreds of websites that bloggers have created so their voices can be heard loud and clear.
A repressive regime like that of President Mubarak do not yet grasp that preventing young people access to democratic means of protest invariably results in them using technology to express their views. He can not shut down the Internet.