Photos: Egypt bloggers persistent in protests

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  1. Meeting where they can

    Egypt has the largest and most active blogosphere in the Arab world, and their work is done at great personal risk, facing arrest, prison, torture -- and even death, in some cases, says British photojournalist Anastasia Taylor-Lind, who is based in the Middle East. In this photo, the 'godfather' of Egyptian bloggers Wael Abbas, right, with fellow activists Kareem El Behiry, center, and Ahmed El Sayad, left, at Al Borsah Cafe in downtown Cairo, Egypt in 2010. Many bloggers are the children of Cairo’s intellectuals, radicals and activists and they gather late into the night in the shabby downtown street cafes their parents inhabited in the 1960s and 70s. (Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII Mentor) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Satellites offer access

    A view over the satellite-topped rooftops of downtown Cairo, Egypt. Egypt, the Middle East’s business leader, is unique among its Arab neighbors in that it does not restrict the flow of information online. This is due to the “Ministry of Communications and Information Technology “ which has a policy of keeping the Internet open to encourage commerce and investment. In addition, the government also promotes a one laptop per child policy and offers payment plans for as little as 45 Egyptian pounds ($8) a month to students who wish to purchase computers. (Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII Mentor) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Long, familiar effort

    Blogger Nora Younis reads the morning paper on her balcony at home in Maadi, Cairo, Egypt. She is also a journalist and editor for Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, and writes about human rights abuses, something she has spent years documenting. In 2008, she and an activist from another country shared the annual Human Rights award from the Human Rights First Organization. (Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII Mentor) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Bringing bloggers to the fore

    Ehab El Zelaky, Web editor for the independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, pictured in the newsroom in Cairo, Egypt. El Zelaky is considered one of the first Egyptian print editors to engage bloggers in the print media. The bloggers are supported by IT specialists, human rights lawyers, and independent newspaper editors. (Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII Mentor) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Making and following the news

    Ahmed Garbeia, a freelance software engineer who organizes workshops for bloggers, is pictured at his family home in Al Moqatam, Cairo, Egypt. (Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII Mentor) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Initially, driven by reports of women's torture

    Human rights blogger Noha Atef poses for a portrait on the street outside Al Shorouk newspaper offices, where she also works as a journalist, in Mohandessin, Cairo, Egypt. Her interest in her country's human-rights abuses was sparked by reading a report about how women were tortured in police stations. Online young Egyptian activists speak freely and can escape political repression by challenging the regime openly on their blogs. They write about the country’s record of human rights abuses, police torture and social injustices, often distributing information about events and incidents that would otherwise be unreported. (Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII Mentor) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A break from the pressure

    Blogger and political activist Shahinez Abdelsalam pictured in a cafe in downtown Cairo, Egypt. The following day Abdelsalam emigrated to France because she was 'too tired' of living and working in Egypt. Bloggers,, says photojournalist Anastasia Taylor-Lind, "are routinely harassed, imprisoned, sometimes tortured and occasionally murdered." (Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII Mentor) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Wide-ranging views

    Socialist blogger Hossam El Hamalawy in his office at Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, where he also works as a journalist, in Garden City, Cairo, Egypt. The Southern California-based Levantine Cultural Center has described him as an "an outspoken proponent of human rights, labor movements, and free speech." (Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII Mentor) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Defense help

    Lawyer Gamel Eid, founder of The Arab Network for Human Rights Information, is pictured at work in his office in downtown Cairo, Egypt. Cyber activism, however, comes at a price in Egypt and bloggers are routinely arrested and imprisoned for speaking out. During these detainments, police torture is not uncommon and there are currently more than 20 people serving prison sentences for “crimes” connected to cyber activism in the country. Eid's group helps defend many bloggers when they are arrested and tried by the government. (Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII Mentor) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Activist on Facebook

    Ahmed Maher, blogger and founder of the Facebook activists' group 6th of April Youth Movement, smokes a shisha pipe while checking e-mails at Takeiba cafe in downtown Cairo. Egypt. Egyptian bloggers use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to get people onto the street by rallying anti-government protesters, organizing workers’ strikes and mobilizing demonstrators in cities across the country. (Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII Mentor) Back to slideshow navigation
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By
msnbc.com
updated 1/27/2011 11:00:48 AM ET 2011-01-27T16:00:48

Their voices may not be the ones heard on the streets of Egypt, but what they're saying is coming through loud and clear over the Internet, via websites, blogs and social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter.

Egypt's bloggers are young, as much of the nation is, with the median age being 24. Noha Atef, 26, started blogging about five years ago, spurred by reports she read about Egyptian women who were being tortured in police stations.

She hasn't experienced such ugliness first-hand, but she and her family are threatened and harassed, she said in a recent interview with The Friday Bulletin.

"Police never beat me, but more than one time summoned me. I was advised by them to stop blogging, while my family were threatened of my disappearance, rape and 'punishment' if they didn’t stop me," she told the publication.

Her online work could be "easily interpreted as a text that 'encourages people to hate police,' which is a crime in Egyptian law," she said.

Such is the case for thousands of others whose laptops and cell phones are always at hand. Most are protesting not only their country's politics and President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power for nearly 30 years, but what they say are human rights violations involving torture — and sometimes murder.

Their ranks include a support network, people like Ahmed Garbeia, a freelance software engineer who organizes workshops for bloggers, as well as human rights lawyers, and independent newspaper editors.

Sometimes, despite the support, the struggle is too much.

Blogger and political activist Shahinez Abdelsalam is one of those who recently emigrated to France, saying she was "too tired" of the battles.

"The Internet is open, fast and everywhere," says British photojournalist Anastasia Taylor-Lind, who is based in the Middle East. "But bloggers are routinely harassed, imprisoned, sometimes tortured and occasionally murdered."

Taylor-Lind says many bloggers "are the children of Cairo’s intellectuals, radicals and activists and they gather late into the night in the shabby downtown street cafes their parents inhabited in the 1960s and 70s, cafes like Al Borsah and Takeiba, where the conversation over mint tea or Arabic coffee is always revolutionary and anti-Mubarak."

However, she notes, "cyber activism ... comes at a price in Egypt, and bloggers are routinely arrested and imprisoned for speaking out. During these detainments, police torture is not uncommon and there are currently more than 20 people serving prison sentences for 'crimes' connected to cyber activism in the country."

Heba Saleh, writing in The Financial Times, said that "Egypt's young activists organise on the Internet and generally eschew ideology. They want democracy, social justice and an end to corruption, torture and police brutality. Their demands do not include Islamic rule or a government of any particular hue."

Facebook and Twitter are popular venues for contact, he said, and activists' "face-to-face meetings are rare. There is no single leader and those who organise the protests remain anonymous — which has generally kept them out of the hands of the police."

Saleh quoted one organizer, who wrote on Facebook: "I don’t know what will happen tomorrow and where I will be tomorrow night. I may be at home, protesting on the street, in prison or in my grave. But I know I have to go and get my rights."

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

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