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An Egyptian American’s Viral Video

May 29, 2011

One of the interesting stories of the globalization of the Egyptian uprising is Tamer Shaaban’s viral video.

Tamer Shaaban is an American college student of Egyptian origin, with family living in Egypt. When the uprisings occurred, his imagination was captured by the images he was seeing. He cobbled together those he saw as most powerful, and posted the result. It went viral, rapidly accumulating over one million hits, being blogged about and Tweeted. It was clearly one of the crucial pieces of media that helped frame the uprisings as positive, as a people-led democratic movement, rather than the chaotic riots presupposed in many other versions (that of Glenn Beck, for example).

Shaaban went on to make a handful of other, similar videos encouraging a positive, democratic interpretive frame for understanding the rebellion against Hosni Mubarak.

Here’s the original video

This video offers an early example of what came to be the prorevolution interpretive framework widely circulated throughout the world. Note how the images emphasize:

  • The power differential between unarmed civilians (sometimes throwing rocks) and the machine-based power of the state (body armor, tear gas, riot trucks with fire hoses, etc.)
  • Young people demanding their rights
  • Older people fighting for a better future for their children
  • Participation of women
  • Muslims and Copts protesting together
  • The large numbers of marchers and protesters
  • The exuberance of the protesters
  • The suffering of the protesters at the hands of agents of the state

And, of course, it ends with a quotation from John F. Kennedy.

Hhere’s an interview on US national television with Tamer Shaaban about his YouTube videos:

And here he is on another, local show:

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