With the launch of the latest State of the Mobile Web report we focus on the Egyptian revolution. Ayman Shokr, an Engineer from Egypt, participated in the protests at Tahrir Square and shares how the Internet and social media was a vital part of the revolution. He also sent us some amazing pictures from Tahrir Square during the protests that led to the fall of the Egyptian government.
Opera: Describe the feeling of being at the square in the middle of it all?
Ayman Shokr: It's really an amazing feeling, a feeling you cannot describe. You cannot imagine what it is like to be one amongst a million. It's the first time in Egypt that you can find millions of people in the street, all asking for the same thing: freedom. And, for the first time you can find millions of people in a civilized and peaceful way. It's enlightening to feel your soul unite with a million others.
Opera: How did the ability of being connected to the world affect your message?
Ayman Shokr: The key success for the revolution was the way we connected, via Facebook and other social media via Internet, to mobile phones. It was a revolution based on communication. And, when the government blocked the Internet in order to break social connection and organization, it challenged our resources, but, regardless, we managed to find other ways to connect and communicate to social media.
Opera: How did you view the world's reaction to the demonstrations?
Ayman Shokr: Firstly, it was not a demonstration, this was a revolution, certainly the most peaceful and civil revolution in the modern world with men, women and children flooding Tahrir Square and chanting for freedom, we all want freedom. It was very important that our message to the world was one of peace and communicated the simple demand for liberty. It was amazing how the whole world supported us, thanks again to the many forms of communication that enabled us to be connected worldwide. After the revolution's victory, it was incredible to hear the president of the US say that we want our children to mirror the spirit and unity of Egyptian people, and Berlusconi say that there is nothing new in Egypt, as Egyptians are used to making history. That's the power of communication.
Opera: Would this have been possible without the Internet to support the protests?
Ayman Shokr: Absolutely not; the Internet was the most effective way to make the revolution a reality, when the government blocked social media, we were challenged to stay connected, but, knowing we already had a spark ignited, we managed to continue forwards anyway. In my opinion, any new revolution that will happen in the world will depend primarily on social media. And, as Egyptians and Tunisians, we are proud to be the first in history to change our countries on the back of a social media revolution.