Facebook’s increasingly ambiguous role in the Middle East

Facebook’s increasingly ambiguous role in the Middle East

Haaretz reports that a new, anonymously created Facebook page is calling for a rally this Friday aimed at overthrowing the Hamas-led government in the Gaza strip: 

The page, titled Honor Revolution (Thauret al-Karama in Arabic), urges Gazans to take to the street after Muslim Friday prayers to topple the de-facto government of the Islamist movement.

"The young people of the beloved Gaza Strip will carry out a grand act that will change the face of history," a message posted on the page reads.

"We derived our inspiration from the revolutions in green Tunisia and Egypt of the pharaohs, which joined the struggle for freedom," it says.

The group’s stated aim is to end the split between Gaza and the West Bank, which came about when Hamas seized sole control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. By Wednesday afternoon, 2,338 people had joined it by clicking "like."

Hamas has allowed some Facebook-organized anti-Mubarak demonstrations, but has cracked down on others since the Egypt crisis began. The Palestinian Authority, an ally of Mubarak, has banned solidarity demonstrations on the West Bank. 

In other Facebook news, Syria has lifted its five-year ban on the site, a move praised by the U.S. State Department. In a somewhat more sinister development, Sudanese President Hassan Omar al-Bashir is encouraging supporters to sign up for Facebook in order to counter the country’s opposition movement. Regime officials revealed that they were heavily monitoring anti-regime Facebook pages during Egypt- and Tunisia-inspired demonstrations in Khartoum last month.

Perhaps Syria, like Sudan, has realized that keeping a close eye on the Facebook youth can be more productive than blocking them.