Last week, Republican presidential contender Herman Cain badly stumbled at an editorial meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, displaying his limited knowledge of the current situation in Libya. His campaign blamed the gaffe on 4 hours of sleep and an ambiguous question from reporters. A few days later, Cain asked the media in a rhetorical manner, “Do I agree with saying that Gadhafi should go, do I agree that they now have a country where you’ve got Taliban and Al Qaeda that’s going to be a part of the government?” For the record, the Taliban has never been associated with Gadhafi or Libya.
Since the international media started following the situation in Egypt closely, a number of inaccurate, ignorant, and occasionally racist commentary from otherwise reputable new sources have been passed over without a thought. Since we write about Islam and Muslims, and Egypt is 90% Muslim, we thought it was relevant. And funny. The blogger Sarthanapalos has received a great deal of attention for this response:
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.