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Friday, January 28, 2011

Egypt cuts off Internet, and more on Day 4 of riots

Round-up of news from Egypt:
The Egyptian government has ordered internet providers to shut down all international connections to the internet. Renesys, an American company that specializes in the analysis of internet data routing estimated the shut down on Friday was unprecedented in the history of internet. The four Egyptian service providers—Links Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr—are for the moment off the air. The only exception to this block is Noor Group, which still is still providing all of its 83 live routes to its Egyptian customers. The reason why Noor Group has been immune to the block is unclear, but unconfirmed reports say it is because the provider is linked to the Egyptian stock market.

Every business, bank, internet cafe, website, school, embassy and government office in Egypt is now cut off from the rest of the world. The government’s shut down all internet routes has wiped the country from the global map, and all of Egypt’s internet addresses are unreachable worldwide. According to the Renesys website, the situation Egypt’s Internet is facing now is incomparable in scale to the modest manipulation that took place in Tunisia. At 12:34 AM local time, the US agency observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to the Egyptian networks in the internet’s global routine table. The agency wrote on its website that it worries about the consequences of the large-scale shut down on the credit markets and in the streets.
After participating in a public prayer with 2000 people, opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei and other protesters clashed with police in Giza.

ElBaradei and followers conducted the public prayer after finding Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandiseen closed, according to Al Jazeera.

The controversial leader, who traveled to Egypt from Vienna Thursday, has offered to head an interim government.

Thousands of activists also clashed with security forces outside of Al-Azhar Mosque in Islamic Cairo after Friday prayers, according to AFP.

Hundreds of security forces blocked traffic into downtown Tahrir Square, surrounding the area where 30,000 protesters gathered Tuesday to demand economic and political reform.

In a talk show on Thursday, prominent media personality Emad Adib said that a number of Egyptian businessmen had sent their money abroad after the eruption of Tuesday's anti-government demonstrations.

He also expected businessmen to leave the country and government officials to resign if the situation escalated.
In Suez, which has been ground zero for some of the most violent demonstrations, police fired tear gas at protesters who hurled stones and petrol bombs into the early hours of Friday. Fires burned in the street, filling the air with smoke.

The city fire station was ablaze. Waves of protesters charged towards a police station deep into the night. Demonstrators dragged away their wounded comrades into alleys.

At another rally near Giza on the outskirts of Cairo, police used tear gas to break up hundreds of protesters late at night. Cairo, normally vibrant on a Thursday night ahead of the weekend, was largely deserted, with shops and restaurants shut.
Curiously, I have been getting many hits, from IP addresses worldwide - but mostly from Germany - to my article from September about how Egyptian state media tried to smear ElBaradei by publishing photos from his daughter's Facebook page, with the photos. Hard to know whether the people coming are pro- or anti-ElBaradei.