Nevine Zaki is a freelance copywriter based in Cairo
“I was never really into Twitter. For me it was an absurd idea, an entire social network devoted to… status updates? And with no ‘like’ button? What a blasphemy. But then I became fed up with all the events, the fan pages, the Farmville requests and the daily feed of personal information, so I turned to Twitter. Within no time, the ‘like’ button was replaced by the ‘RT’, and I was instantly on a one-on-one basis with people from the four corners of the world.
Fast forward to 25 January, the Egyptian revolution started, and by that time most of the information I was receiving was from all the young people on Twitter who started it, and were tweeting its every move from the awe-inspiring battlefield – Tahrir (‘Liberation’) Square. They made us all feel it, defend it, attack it, share it and look up to it.
Then one day, by pure luck, I happened to be in the right place at the right time. By the right place, I mean Tahrir, and the right time being the ‘maghreb’ prayer time. All the men gathered up into lines, started praying together, and a group of young men joined hands and formed a human shield around them. The scene was so serene that I quickly took out my phone and shot the picture above. Then my friend, who was standing next to me, hugged one of these men, started crying, and said: “They are Christians, look at the cross tattoo below his palm.”
That night I tweeted the picture, with no idea of the effect it would have on the world. I received massive tweets of support, the most common being ‘this restored my faith in humanity’. Several American Christian ministers made it the topic of their Sunday church sermons, and the most touching effect was that it dissipated most sectarian claims pertaining to Egypt. Claims that we have all been struggling with since the 1st of January Alexandria bombings that killed many Christians. Media attention was phenomenal too. Funnily enough, one night we were all tweeting about how right-wing Fox News is and then the next morning I was asked to appear on their show to discuss the picture and helped them redefine the term ‘co-exist’. CNN also ran another show about its fear of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover, then they used the picture to qualm any claims of Christian intolerance.
And that’s the power of social media. The fact that it made my humble self – a girl who is not an activist nor a photographer – communicate to the world a side of this revolution that touched (and shocked) all of us: our solidarity. So, the next time you type a ‘#’ or an ‘RT’, I hope you realise these helped contribute to humanity.”
Filed Under: 3.Blogs & Comment
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