On December 17, 2010 a 26 year old Tunsian vegetable seller named Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself to protest the police confiscation of his vegetable cart. Bouazizi died of his burns on January 4, 2011 and became a martyr to the thousands of unemployed and students in Tunisia who had been protesting against poverty and unemployment. The protests culminated on January 14 – after dozens of protesters were killed – with the stepping down of President Ben Ali.
A couple of the larger causes related to Tunisia were created and grew swiftly in the days following Ali’s departure:
The cause, 1,000,000 Tunisians for a parliamentary system, giving power to the people, is actively managed by an activist in Tunis named Chiheb Arfaoui, who regularly updates members of the cause with bulletins and other calls to action. One thing that’s clear is that well timed, informative updates to cause members helps increase membership as people interact with and share the information via Facebook.
Cause admins using the application to connect with and inform people from around the world about events in Northern Africa
During the early days of the revolution in Egypt, the government shut down all access to the internet. Previous to those three days, around 2% of all visits to our application on Facebook came from Egypt. Since the internet has been restored, we’ve seen a significant increase in visits from Cairo bringing their number up to around 2.5% of all visits:
Last week I had the chance to sit down with Stephanie Rudat, an activist in the US who is using Causes to increase awareness of the Egyptian revolution. Her cause, Solidarity with Egypt’s Movement for Democratic Freedom has grown to over 13,000 members in just a few weeks. She sends out pretty regular bulletin updates using everything from simple, but powerful, single images or simply sharing a news article. My full interview with Stephanie is linked below, but I’ve included a couple of key points about her goals with the cause and her plans on creating a sustained group of activists using the platform here:
Stephanie’s full interview is a great peek into how an activist uses Causes to build a community around a specific issue or goal – she’s an experienced community organizer and shares some great insights into activism, in general, and being an effective activist on our platform.
I’ll leave the discussion about whether the protests, and Ali’s departure, in Tunisia sparked the non-violent protests in Egypt or if those protests were already brewing to the political scholars. That being said, two revolutions in one region within days of each other can’t be totally distinct. (I guess I couldn’t stay out of the conversation – which is typical.)
Have a good one -