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Lynch on Blogging the New Arab Public

A few years ago, … Arab blogs could easily be written off as a fad, fueled by the novelty of some outspoken female Saudi bloggers and the prominence of some English-language Iraqi blogs in the American political blogosphere. There are still plenty of reasons to believe that blogs will never live up to their hype. … Blogs reach only a fraction of the audience of Al Jazeera or even of tedious state-dominated newspapers. Where bloggers have been politically influential, such as Egypt and Bahrain, repressive regimes have been able to crack down on them. From this perspective, it is highly unlikely that blogging will induce wide political change in the Middle East. While a healthy skepticism is wise, it would be wrong to conclude that blogging has no role in Arab politics. Arab political blogging is changing and becoming more politically relevant. Bloggers have had a discernible impact in a wide range of Arab countries, including their role in the Kefaya movement in Egypt …, political protests in Bahrain …, the turbulent post-Al Hariri period in Lebanon…, anti-corruption campaigns in Libya … and the 2006 Kuwaiti elections. While political opportunities usually come first—around elections, national scandals, or contentious elite debates, for instance—blogs can be catalysts for previously unlikely political mobilization.

Marc Lynch (2007), “Blogging the New Arab Public,” Arab Media and Society February 2007. Available here. NB - this is being reposted because the first time that I posted it, I neglected to include the hyperlink.

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