SMN No. 9, September 15, 2010
Internet users across the Arab world have been demonstrating their online support to a 19-year-old Syrian blogger held incommunicado by authorities since December.
In Egypt, cyber-activists have started campaigns and support groups for Tal al-Mallohi on several social media networks, notably Twitter, which has not still gained as wide a popularity in Syria as it had in some other Arab countries.
The #Free Tal has become recently one of the most popular hash tags on Twitter among Egyptian users. A hash tag is used within a Tweet as a way to participate in a particular conversation on Twitter. The more a hash-tagged topic is used, the more online media picks it up.
Many Syrian cyber-activists were subsequently encouraged to join Twitter and use it to shore up support for their campaigns.
“Twitter allowed me to connect with tens or even hundreds of individuals from different nationalities within just hours after I first connected to it,” said one Syrian internet user.
Also on Facebook, around 300 netizens joined a group, called “The Arab campaign for the release of Tal al-Mallohi,” within the first day of its creation.
Some Facebook users posted the numbers of Syria’s state security bureau and urged netizens to contact officials and call on them to set Mallohi free.
One user wrote that he tried to contact the security bureau but was told that they had no information about the blogger.
Mallohi has not yet been charged with any crime and the location of her detention remains unknown. Human ruman rights groups in Syria believe that she was arrested because of her blog entries on freedom and the political situation in her country.
Another initiative in solidarity with Mallohi was the circulation of an electronic petition by Egyptian human rights groups.
Via Twitter, these groups called for a sit-in on Sunday 19 September in Cairo to cask for the blogger’s immediate release. The exact location of the protest is still being debated.