A petition

My friend Sandmonkey and I disagree on most things (because he's wrong!), but a few days ago he spotted reports of an Egyptian blogger attending a conference in Israel who said things that have raised the Egyptian blogosphere's collective eyebrows. Among other things, he alleged that we are all opposition journalists, there are only 100 of us and he knows us all, and we spend vast fortunes at internet cafés where we hold conspiratorial meetings. In fact there are well over 6,000 Egypt-based bloggers, the vast majority of which are not political, and even the political ones are generally not linked with the opposition, although they might support Kifaya or other movements.

To read more about it, see the petition a bunch of us have signed to alert the Israeli organizers that they have been duped -- the so-called "blogger" appears to be a US-based Egyptian academic who puts up his scholarly articles online. It's one thing to want to speak about blogging in general terms as an academic, but another to paint a vibrant and diverse group of bloggers as a cabal of spoilt rich kids with political agendas. And kudos to Sandmonkey -- the very proof that the Egyptian blogosphere is not what you might expect it to be -- for putting it all together.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.