If ever there were a day to stop what you’re doing and watch Egypt, this is it. As anger intensifies at Mubarak’s refusal to address the demonstraters’ demands in any meaningful way, protests will escalate for the 8th day in a row. Last night, online activists called a ‘Million Man March’. Reports suggest that the crowd in Tahrir Square this morning is already bigger than ever before, and it’s not even midday. Combine this with the army’s announcement that it will not turn on its own people, and whispers that the US are preparing to distance themselves from Mubarak, and it would seem that the day’s events will be crucial to the outcome of this uprising. Whilst the regime itself – including a deeply embedded military infrastructure – may not fall, today could be the beginning of the end for Mubarak.
But as things hot up, the Egyptian government continues to exert its authority over our ability to moniter events. This will be more apparent than ever today. After the closure of Al Jazeera’s Cairo studio and the arrest of six of their journalists, reports are now circulating that all phone signal is to be blocked in advance of today’s march.
So how to keep track of events on the ground? Over the last week, my first stop has tended to be Twitter. Although messages are sometimes difficult to verify, journalists are becoming increasingly adept as sorting the wheat from the chaff. The Guardian’s Jack Shenker filed an excellent audio-report yesterday, describing how bloggers and journalists are gathering around internet hubs to pool resources and ensure maximum accuracy. Here’s a quick sample of who to follow:
- Dan Nolan (Al Jazeera) – @NolanJazeera
- Ben Wedeman (CNN) – @BenCNN
- Shadi Hamid (Brookings Institute) – @ShadiHamid
- Jack Shenker (The Guardian) – @HackneyLad
- Brian Whitaker (The Guardian) – @BrianWhit
- Sultan Al Qassemi (The National) – @SultanAlQassemi
- Ashraf Khalil – @AshrafKhalil
Since internet services have been shutdown across Egypt, the accounts listed above tend to be western commentators. They continue to pass on messages from protestors as and when they get them, though. In adition, it’s worth keeping an eye on all messages carrying the hashtag ‘Jan25’, ‘Egypt’ or ‘Tahrir’.
As far as blogs are concerned, The Guardian, The Arabist and Al Jazeera (watch it live here) continue to provide an excellent collection of reports and analysis from the ground. And finally, Chatham House have produced a good list of reports from their experts over the past week or so. Do let me know I’ve missed out any important sources, and I’ll update this post as the day goes on.
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