Egypt: April 6 Youth Movement

Resistance by Nenad Duda Petrovic
Tens of thousands of demonstrators have descended on Tahrir Square in Cairo today to take part in the "day of departure" rally for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The April 6 Youth Movement, which has largely been credited with creating momentum for this uprising, has adopted the non-violent means and the banner of its Serbian predecessors who overthrew dictator Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

Using traditional tactics such as graffiti, leaflets, notices, acts of civil disobedience, strikes and the creation of trade-unions, Serbian students succeeded in raising public awareness. Their efforts, too, culminated in a mass rally at the capital building calling for the removal of Milosevic.The tools used by the April 6 Movement to reach other would-be revolutionaries have changed dramatically since the Serbian dictator was deposed. Through its Facebook page, Twitter feeds and YouTube accounts, the pro-democracy group has united some 70,000 young, educated supporters who want a change in the Egyptian government.
According to the New York Times Magazine, the April 6 Movement has been laying the foundation for this uprising for three years, but it has never migrated offline. In fact, whenever members have attempted even small face-to-face gatherings, police have often arrived shortly after.

Many people may be asking themselves the same question: if the Mubarak regime has been aware of this group, why hasn't it done anything to shut it down?

Ethan Zuckerman, a research fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, has referred to this government inaction as the "Cute-cat theory of digital activism." On Facebook, political activists thrive because the social-networking platform is often used for everyday innocuous purposes, such as exchanging pictures of cute cats or discussing American Idol. Although authoritarian governments have few qualms about shutting down activist websites or proxy servers, they can't selectively pull the switch on a few political Facebook pages. That's right. They have to shut the whole thing down--inadvertently annoying cat lovers and infuriating American Idol fans and giving them a reason to radicalize.

Some might say a stroke of genius.

New York Times Magazine
New York Times Lede

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