“Freedom of speech and the right to assemble are limited in Egypt, which since 1981 has been ruled by Mubarakâ€™s National Democratic Party under a permanent state-of-emergency law. An estimated 18,000 Egyptians are imprisoned under the law, which allows the police to arrest people without charges, allows the government to ban political organizations and makes it illegal for more than five people to gather without a license from the government. Newspapers are monitored by the Ministry of Information and generally refrain from directly criticizing Mubarak. And so for young people in Egypt, Facebook, which allows users to speak freely to one another and encourages them to form groups, is irresistible as a platform not only for social interaction but also for dissent.”
A long feature article in the New York Times Magazine explores whether social networking can turn disaffected young Egyptians into a force for democratic change.