The “martyr” a.k.a Khaled Saeed facebook Page
There is no doubt that Khaled Saeed Page on facebook was one of the main drives of the success of the January 25 revolution in Egypt, and maybe Tunisia Revolution too.
On the 25th of January, “We are all Khaled Saeed” page on fb had more than 600,000 followers, and during the following 18 days it jumped to a staggering +1,000,000 followers. While the actual impact of Khaled’s page on the revolution cannot be determined, it was this page which first published a call to protest on January 25th and throughout the revolution protesters carried banners and posters displaying the photograph of Saaed’s disfigured dead body.
The page has been named one of the catalysts of the 2011 Egyptian protests, and in Tunisia activist and revolutionaries said it even inspired the Tunisian Revolution, a month preceding the Egyptian Revolt. The page was a key force in urging the youth to go down and join the protests, and it succeed greatly in motivating and activating the young soldiers of the revolt. On February 11, 2011, these protests resulted in the resignation of Hosni Mubarak after 30 years in power. But how? And more importantly, why did this particular page succeed in doing what many others failed at?
To understand how a fb page triggered 2 revolutions, we must know a little background about Khaled Saeed himself and then his fb page.
Khaled Mohamed Saeed was a young Egyptian man who died under disputed circumstances in the Sidi Gaber area of Alexandria on June 6, 2010, after being arrested by Egyptian police. Khaled (God bless him), an unemployed Alexandrian, was sitting in a cybercafe, when two police detectives from the Sidi Gaber police station entered the premises and arrested him. He was then reportedly tortured to death in the doorway of the building across the street, and in front a number of witnesses. No one knows why the police officers killed the young man, and quite frankly it is irrelevant, because there is no justification for the murder whatsoever.
But why is this torture case different than many others that were revealed in Egypt, during the past decade?
Khaled became a symbol, because of the extremely graphical set of photos of Khaled’s dead body in the morgue, which revealed the brutality of the torture crime, the photos was release to the internet, and instantly it got viral, subsequently there was a public outcry especially among the Egyptian fb users.
The photos were leaked to the internet through no other than Ayman Nour, El-Ghad opposition party leader, with most controversial persona and agenda. Nour was the first to reveal Khaled’s story alongside his photos on June 10, 2010 (just four days after the incident), and then the fb youth picked it up (particularly one Wael Ghonim) and from there it spread over all Egypt and the globe, like wild fire.
Let’s make this clear: Khaled’s background, and whether or not he had a criminal record or was involved in drug trafficking as the state police claims, is not of any relevance to the case currently before the Egyptian court. The case is a clear torture crime and those responsible for it must be punished with the worst legal penalty, as is the case with those responsible for all other torture crimes that took place during Mubarak’s unjust regime.
But, while the story of Khaled’s death itself is un-debatably a tragic and inhumane crime, and is above any questioning, the facebook page set in his name, is not! The page is a case study in how to systematically overthrow governments, right out of a text book about Civil disobedience & how to topple regimes.
If you want to topple a government how do you do it?
- Adopt (or create) an epic story, of a fallen hero, and transform him into an icon. The story must be tragic and must be stripped down to it’s simplest form in order for people to sympathize and relate to it.
- Gather national support: We are talking hundreds of thousands if not millions.
- Then start organizing public gatherings, they must be peaceful so that the government would not kill the movement before it even starts, and they must be distinct (preferably with a dress-code or a uniform).
- Each gathering the number will grow, and that’s why the epic story to keep going, to inspire more followers, until it gathers sufficient momentum.
- After a certain set bench mark (say 500,000), and with enough man power, higher the ceiling of demands, and instead of peaceful public gatherings, start a revolution.
And that is exactly what Khaled Saeed Facebook Page executed with remarkable accuracy.
The page took the painful death of a young unemployed man who was tortured and killed by the police in questionable circumstances and turned to an epic story, to recruit and enlist. And started organizing weekly public street-stand-outs in Alexandria, starting with some 1000 protesters and then growing by thousands each Friday, they even had a uniform, they all wore black.
And of course the page became a movement, and the movement disregarded the arrest of those responsible for his death. Then, just when it was big enough, the page called for national disobedience and launched a revolution.
Does this look like the work of a computer engineer? or a work of someone shrewdly, & intently planning to topple a government?
How did Wael Ghonim, computer engineer and the Head of Marketing of Google Middle East and North Africa, come up with such elaborate scheme to overthrow a 30 years old dictatorship. We are not questioning why he did it (we all wanted to get rid of Mubarak), we are questioning how he did it!
We find it very hard to believe that this was a strike of luck.