Thursday, March 31, 2011

Online counter to the Sudanese

The medical student Ahmed Wida was content to support the ruling party of Sudan on the sidelines in recent years, to the surveys in Tunisia and Egypt made him think: Sudan could be next. With a revolutionary fervor, this 21 year old military 'online' to defenter the 'status quo', one among many pro-government youth who have taken the Internet to combat anti-government protests in this country, a major producer oil.

"We want to spread our message, and do not have to go out and protest," says Wida, who is convinced that the protest movement still limited in Sudan is just a front for the Communist Party unpopular. "We have seen what happened in Egypt and Tunisia and things are worse after the protests," he says.

Unlike what happened in Egypt during protests in January, when the government desperately cut Internet access, Sudan's ruling party is playing the same game as the demonstrators, and urges the youth to organize a counter Internet. Protests against the government of Omar Al Bashir, who spent more than two decades in power, have not gained mass support and was quickly overturned by the security forces, but with rising food prices and the referendum on southern independence, the Government, nervous, ready to win the propaganda war.

"What we're saying is any party member who has a laptop or internet access should try to defend the NCP (National Congress Party)," says Omer Basan, information secretary for the ruling party in the key state of Khartoum . "This is not an aggressive strategy. The idea is to correct what the protesters think." In a predominantly rural, with no general access to running water or electricity in many areas, only relatively wealthy people can afford to Khartoum to fight the battles on the internet.

However, many young people are trying to mimic what happens in other countries in the Middle East, to call events via Facebook, and now the popular social networking site has become a crucial battleground for the groups in favor and against the government. Young Sudanese ruling PNC say they have created at least 10 Facebook groups for the last couple of months, with names ranging from 'I am the NCP and I'm proud' to 'not the protests in Sudan, whether peaceful or subversive.

" Coalesce together thousands of fans and boast that they have already achieved more than the 17,000 fans who Sharara, name of group leader of youth protest movement. Pro-government sites abound in these photos of a smiling President Omar Al-Bashir sought by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide in Darfur, dressed in military uniforms or traditional white robes, while waving a stick in the air.

The videos of these issues are also being successful. "The Sudanese people have the idea that the PNC does nothing. We want to show the positive side, such as bridges or buildings being built." Wida said. Mosab Saleh, a university student aged 22, is convinced that we must go a step further to support the party.

Says it has tried to crack the website of the protesters, and created fake profiles on Facebook to join groups of protesters and leave comments for the Government. "Remove the comments left after two minutes and then kick you out, so you have to create another profile to return to his group," he complained.

Khaled Salim, who runs the Web site of the NCP in Khartoum wing, believed that thousands of the 17,000 supporters of the protest movement Sharara on the Internet were in fact party members had come together to strike back at the protesters. Party officials say the 'hacking' on the Net is not the official policy or encouraged, and to promote PNC online is always voluntary and aimed at initiating a dialogue.

On the other hand, the protest movement activists believe there are more sinister motives. Ensure that PNC members have been "infiltrated" into their groups on Facebook to find out details about the protests in order to pop them, sowing confusion and distrust among activists. An activist named Sarah, said that young people PNC sent threatening messages to 'cyber' with threats of arrest and worse.

In addition, she confesses that she was pushed into a vehicle and stopped before the demonstrations of March 21, was forced into his Facebook account and show the groups they belonged. All this has forced the protesters to leave Facebook and just return to face to face contacts and spontaneous demonstrations, says Magdi Okasha, spokesman for protest group Youth for Change.

In any case, there may be many reasons why the protests have not taken off in Sudan, as an opposition and a weak protest movement and the trauma of losing the country's south, said Roger Middleton, an expert on Sudan, the 'think tank "Chatham House. However, the NCP's campaign on the Internet also indicates that actively thought any potential sign of trouble, he said.

"The Sudanese government has been proactive against any sign of protest," he said. "This demonstrates that the PNC is more competent to fight these motions before they escalate, is well entrenched in society and life in Sudan."

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