Minister says ‘Egyptian Facebook’ is underway, users already looking for a name

Egypt has said it is looking at creating its own version of Facebook, but the country’s people have already started questioning the motives (AFP)
Updated 13 March 2018
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Minister says ‘Egyptian Facebook’ is underway, users already looking for a name

CAIRO: Egypt has taken concrete steps toward establishing an “Egyptian Facebook” and a hashtag on the subject has already strarted trending on Twitter Egypt.

The country’s telecommunication and information technology minister said Monday that Egypt is working on establishing a social networking platform similar to Facebook.

Minister Yasser El-Qadi said the move was part of a plan to be an active partner in the field of social media internationally, according to Ahram Online.

Though he did not provide further details regarding the project, he said the protection of data and information was important, and that the Egyptian state was keen on safeguarding the personal privacy of its citizens.

He added that Egypt had grown capabilities in protecting information and preserving the privacy of its citizens online.

The minister made the statements during a workshop organized by the Egyptian Justice Ministry to face extremism and ways to combat it.

But Facebook users decided they could not miss the opportunity to poke fun at the announcement, embarking on a Twitter hashtag that read in Arabic: #Suggest_a_name_for_theEgyptianFacebook

The hashtag was widely trending on Twitter in Egypt, as some suggested calling the local version of the global networking site as “Egyptian Face,” “Fake Book” “Facebookii.”

Others commented on their fears that the Egyptian version of the platform would be used by the government to spy on its users.

According to statistics in 2017, Egypt leads the number of Arab Facebook users, with approximately 34.5 million active accounts, representing 23 percent of all Arab Facebook users.


Israel targets rights groups with bill to outlaw filming of soldiers

Israeli soldiers are under constant attack by Israel haters, says defense minister. (AFP)
Updated 17 June 2018
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Israel targets rights groups with bill to outlaw filming of soldiers

  • Rights groups frequently film Israeli soldiers on duty in the occupied West Bank, documentation the organizations say is necessary to expose abuse by the military
  • A ministerial committee which oversees legislation voted to approve the bill on Sunday

JERUSALEM: Israel moved on Sunday to snap the lens shut on rights groups that film its troops’ interactions with Palestinians by introducing a bill that would make it a criminal offense.
Rights groups frequently film Israeli soldiers on duty in the occupied West Bank, documentation the organizations say is necessary to expose abuse by the military.
A video filmed by Israeli rights group B’Tselem in 2016 showing an Israeli soldier shoot dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant drew international condemnation and led to the soldier’s conviction for manslaughter in a highly divisive trial.
The proposed law, formulated by the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, would make filming or publishing footage “with intent to harm the morale of Israel’s soldiers or its inhabitants” punishable by up to five years in prison.
The term would be raised to 10 years if the intention was to damage “national security.”
A ministerial committee which oversees legislation voted to approve the bill on Sunday. It will now go to parliament for a vote that could take place this week and if ratified, will be scrutinized and amended before three more parliamentary votes needed for it to pass into law.
Yisrael Beitenu leader and Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, praised the committee and said: “Israeli soldiers are under constant attack by Israel haters and supporters of terrorism who look constantly to degrade and sully them. We will put an end to this.”
A Palestinian official condemned the move.
“This decision aims to cover up crimes committed by Israeli soldiers against our people, and to free their hands to commit more crimes,” Deputy Palestinian Information Minister Fayez Abu Aitta told Reuters.
The phrasing of the bill stops short of a blanket ban, aiming instead at “anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian organizations” which spend “entire days near Israeli soldiers waiting breathlessly for actions that can be documented in a slanted and one-sided way so that soldiers can be smeared.”
Naming B’Tselem and several other rights groups, the bill says many of them are supported by organizations and governments with “a clear anti-Israel agenda” and that the videos are used to harm Israel and national security.
The ban would cover social networks as well as traditional media.
B’Tselem shrugged off the bill.
“If the occupation embarrasses the government, then the government should take action to end it. Documenting the reality of the occupation will continue regardless of such ridiculous legislation efforts,” the group’s spokesman, Amit Gilutz, said.
B’Tselem’s video of the shooting in the West Bank in 2016 led to Israeli soldier Elor Azaria being convicted of manslaughter. He was released in May after serving two-thirds of his 14-month term. Opinion polls after his arrest showed a majority of Israelis did not want a court-martial to take place.