Social networks such as Facebook are increasingly used to organize political demonstrations like this April 6, 2008 strike and promote their coverage in mainstream news reports. In Egypt, this popularity of new media for social organizing is due in part to emergency laws that prohibit opposition groups from meeting publicly in groups of more than six people. This did make organizing mass non-violent protests challenging and time-consuming in the past, but online blog and social networks like Facebook have allowed young people to create groups, organize events, and invite friends to chat online instead.
Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders interviewed Alaa al-Aswany, also known as the Sinbad of literature, yesterday.
There aren’t a lot of famous writers who are also dentists. Alaa al Aswany is Egypt’s most famous living writer who happens to also work as a dentist by day in Cairo. He says being a dentist enables his writing: his patients open up to him, confess their troubles and reveal their inner lives. Al Aswany’s first novel, The Yacoubian Building, published in 2002, overnight became the bestselling novel in the Arab world, and was subsequently made into Egypt’s highest grossing film ever.
The only Arab-language novel to have created greater buzz and sell more copies is his second novel, Chicago, which has just been published in the US. Set on the campus of the University of Illinois Medical Center where he himself trained as a dentist, Chicago explores the interweaving lives of a group of Egyptian students and professors trying to find their bearings in post 9/11 America.