The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Twittered out of trouble

Yesterday's detention of Wael Abbas at Cairo Airport, as he returned from the Tallberg Forum in Sweden, is now resolved. (Rather troubling is Wael's claim that pro-NDP Egyptians at the conference may have reported him to the authorities.) But Wael still had his laptop and papers confiscated, and is having trouble filing a complaint with the police.

It was interesting to see the story unfold from the early morning, when Wael started posting what was happening to him on Twitter, the reaction of the Egyptian Twitosphere, most notably that of Hisham Kassem, the president of the Egyptian Organization of Human Rights (EOHR), a prominent commentator on Egyptian politics and publisher (he was the CEO al-Masri al-Youm at its launch in 2004 till 2007 and previously owned the Cairo Times). Hisham is also a Twitter addict, and it was fascinating to see him provide Wael and the wider community dispatches about his efforts to dispatch EOHR lawyers, talk to security, and try to get Wael out of his situation.

It may not be a Twitter revolution, but it's a very practical, transparent and engaging way to rally people around a cause. Congrats to Hisham on getting Wael out of trouble and letting us know how it's done. And Wael, rest well and I hope you get your laptop back soon!