Social Media Gets Credit For Tunisian Overthrow
LIANE HANSEN, Host:
Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)
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ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Daloumi says President Ben Ali tried to block the cell phone videos of the first killings of protesters in the south of the country.
SALOUAH DALOUMI: He make a firewall to filter this video. But we can make upload and we can download it in the laptop. And after, we give it to the people.
BEARDSLEY: Daloumi says those videos were the Tunisian people's connection with reality. They soon spread like wildfire and were picked up by global cable networks, BBC World and al-Jazeera. No one here trusts the Tunisian media, says Daloumi.
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BEARDSLEY: She calls the state television a complete joke. Indeed, on Friday when demonstrations and riots engulfed Tunis, the official channel played music and aired call-in chat shows, never even mentioning what was going on in the streets.
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BEARDSLEY: Mohamed Ben Hazouz(ph) is a blogger and software engineer. He says Friday's massive demonstration was completely organized on the Internet. He calls what happened in Tunisia the world's first cyber-net revolution.
MOHAMED BEN HAZOUZ: Everyone in Tunisia was connected to the Internet, to the site of the bloggers, to the site of Facebook, to Twitter, to organize the revolution.
BEARDSLEY: But government authorities were no match for Tunisia's tech-savvy youth, says Claire Spencer, a Middle East specialist at London-based think tank Chatham House.
CLAIRE SPENCER: I think there is definitely a generation who've understood the technology of how to circumvent banned websites. The moment something is banned, somebody in this country is breaking through it and going around it. So it's been counterproductive in recent years in terms of a control strategy.
BEARDSLEY: Spencer says the ouster of dictators in places like Libya and Egypt may not be imminent, but she feels changes are on the horizon.
SPENCER: This is a generation that is educated, is well-informed, that will be more demanding of their rights to participate, to have a civic role in their state, and not to sit through gerrymandered elections and lack of participation in the economy.
BEARDSLEY: For NPR news, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Tunis.
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