In a chilling move that could set a dangerous global precedent, Egypt’s government has responded to pro-democracy protests by shutting down access to the Internet. They hope to make it impossible for protesters to coordinate, and to hide the government’s brutal crackdown from the eyes of the world.
Now, as Americans, we have a unique ability to influence Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s decision to shut off the Internet because, since 1948, the United States has donated $68 billion of aid to the Egyptian government.1
So today we’re joining with our close friends at Access—an international organization, created with support from MoveOn, pushing for global Internet freedom—in calling on President Obama to withhold any more aid to Egypt unless their government reopens the channels of communication, including the Internet, and honors the Egyptian people’s demands for true democracy.
Sign the Access petition to President Obama here:
President Obama has more influence over Mubarak than anyone else and this is a chance to honor America’s commitment to freedom and democracy. President Obama has already said the Egyptian government should “reverse the actions that they’ve taken to interfere with access to the Internet, with cellphone service and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century.” 2
In this era, open access to the Internet and communications technology is increasingly essential for democracy and the protection of human rights. The Internet blackout in Egypt not only poses an immediate threat the safety of the protesters, but also stands in the way of their vision for democratic reform. Real reform in Egypt cannot happen until there is real freedom of speech. And freedom of speech means fully restoring access to mobile phone networks and the Internet.
The White House has said it is reviewing U.S. aid policy, but so far President Obama hasn’t publicly tied continuing aid to fully restoring internet and communications access in Egypt.3
Just after taking office President Obama delivered a historic address in Cairo calling for a new beginning in the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world based on mutual interest and mutual respect. Now is the time to demonstrate that commitment.
Please sign this petition to President Obama urging him to support freedom in Egypt.
Thanks for all you do.
–Justin, Robin, Michael, Laura, and the rest of the team MoveOn.org
1. “What the United States has at stake in Egypt,” MSNBC, January 28, 2011
2. “President Obama calls on Egypt to bring back the Internet, social media,” The Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2011
3. “United States to review aid to Egypt in wake of protests,” CNN.com, January 29, 2011
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