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Egypt’s Internet Blocked - I Call on My Friend Tarek Kamel to Unblock It and Join His People

Internet all over Egypt has been blocked in an unprecedented revolt. I call on my friend Tarek Kamel, Egypt’s Minister of Telecommunication, to overturn this oppressive decision and to unblock the Internet in all Egypt immediately and to join his people in their peaceful revolt.

I have known Tarek Kamel for more than a decade and long before he became minister back in the days when he used to say he had no authority and that the decisions were in the hands of his boss and that he was a mere decision-less adviser to then Minister of Telecommunication, Mr. Nazif.

Tarek was elevated to the post of Minister when his former boss Mr. Nazif was chosen by President Hosni Mubarak to become Prime Minister, who in turn picked Tarek for his old job as Minister of ICT.

Ironically, Nazif was brought in to implement major reforms to Egypt. His primary focus was to curb corruption and unemployment. Clearly, Mubarak and Nazif failed judging by the sentiments by the Egyptian people the last 4 days with corruption being at the heart of this escalating Egypt wide revolt.

In fairness, Tarek has done some great things to innovate the Egyptian Internet infrastructure. But being a long term member of President Hosni Mubarak’s government will damage him greatly. However, the blocking of the Internet will be seen as the moment that will define him in Egypt and abroad forever - a Mubarak insider. And bearing in mind the uprising has been calling for the ouster of all of Mubarak’s regime and his cronies, not just Mubarak himself, this fact should not be under estimated.

Tarek has a chance to salvage his reputation and his contribution to Egyptian society and ICT in the eyes of the Egyptian people but only if he acts decisively, and without delay or hesitation. And while I have always known him to be especially intelligent, forward thinking and an innovator, the latest action by his ministry and the Egyptian Government to cut Internet access from all of Egypt, confirmed by all satellite television channels, and by friends in many parts of Egypt, as well by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton moments ago, goes against all what he proclaimed himself to stand for in the past decade.

More, critically, this action could not have taken place without his direct instructions or complicity. I hope time will prove me wrong.

But Times like this will determine if Tarek is the forward thinking man of great character, a leader, or if the euphoria the chair of power has also corrupted him too.

So Brother Tarek, the Internet has been blocked in Egypt. But it is not too late for you to show your true colors. I call on you to listen to your heart and your mind and to the aspiration of your Egyptian brothers and sisters and order the unblocking of Internet in all Egypt irrespective of whether your order will be carried out or not. And if your decision is not followed or overturned, resign, go home in protest and join your people in their peaceful protest and revolt.

The world is watching and Egypt of yesterday will not be the same Egypt tomorrow. The Egyptian people could do a lot more with you by their side, but like in Tunisia, they can still succeed without you.

Tarek, act before it is too late. Be the people’s tool of their empowerment instead of the tool of their oppression. Do it, not because US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just asked you and your President to moments ago in a press conference, but because it is the right thing to do for Egypt and the Egyptian people.

Your friend and brother,

Khaled Fattal,
Group Chairman, The Multilingual Internet Group

By Khaled Fattal, MLi Group Chairman & Survivability News Publisher

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