Guest contribution by Marwa Abed
Early Monday morning social media sites were buzzing with exuberance over the latest victory of the online hacktivist, “Anonymous.” Anonymous are the group of V for Vendetta style online activists who call for civil disobedience in the name of bringing about positive social change. Anonymous’ latest hit: the Syrian government. The group has claimed responsibility for the hacking and the takeover of the Syrian Military of Defense’s website. The hacker’s message declared solidarity with the people of Syria in their rise against the brutal Syrian regime.
This incident occurs in the midst of the Syrian regimes brutal crackdown on Syrian protesters. Over 1,700 Syrian civilians have been reported dead.
So what makes Anonymous’ actions important?
Better yet, why is cyber activism so effective? Why do people ‘tweet’ angry epilogs against the Syrian government and other oppressive regimes? The people’s revolution, our generation’s revolution, will be digitalized. This does not diminish the role of the heroic and gutsy people who demonstrated and continue to demonstrate in Tahrir Square, Bilin, or Hama, but it adds a new element of humanity to globalization. The Syrian people are not alone.
The community of conscious people who actively work to seek and defend the truth is growing. These digital activism is important because it sends a blow to corrupt regimes that otherwise feel indestructible; it highlights injustices and exposes corrupt regimes and practices. The “truth” can no longer be hidden and stored away in confidential files and private meetings.
The Arab world’s fear of the Mukhabarat need not apply to Anonymous. Anonymous reigns as the king of secrecy and renews the long lost liberty of privacy for the Middle East by, ironically, publicizing the hidden crimes of ruthless political establishments. And this basic strategy by no means belongs only to Anonymous.
From Anonymous to Wikileaks to the average blogger, online activism is contributing to the global conversation on political truths. We live in an age of misinformation and added acquiescence. These websites call for peaceful rebellion in light of political and social oppression. An act of civil disobedience—to hack a website the way Anonymous did—is a tactic in the non-violent movement for liberation.
I salute you Anonymous for taking part in the inevitable downfall of the murderous Syrian government and I salute the Syrian people for their courage, their resilience, and their renewed passion for total freedom.
The individual is so powerful once he ditches the binding chains of fear and allows the contours of his mind to be his weapon of choice.
Marwa Abed is a recent graduate of DePaul University and a long time advocate of social justice. She has worked in local Chicago-based political campaigns to increase Arab American civic engagement and greater political and socioeconomic awareness.