A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, August 15, 2011

Now San Francisco is Acting Like an Arab Dictatorship

As I was telling David Cameron the other day, (and no, I don't think he was listening), in the case of his threats to shut down access to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks during the British riots, such tactics remind me of the Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian and Libyan shutdowns of the Internet and cellphones to block protest organizers. It's now spread to another city, one previously, like London, not particularly known for its Gestapo inclinations: San Francisco. Yes, the birthplace of hippies and the Haight-Ashbury, the proudly liberal city with no visible Republicans, is joining the club. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, their subway, decided to shut down cellphone service in the subway to block planned demonstrations. Of course they got the demonstrations anyway and made a lot of people furious; and now BART itself has been hacked by the "Anonymous" people, who, when I'm being rational about it, I consider a public menace, but then there are times when you need a Robin Hood out there. I expect this of Husni Mubarak or Bashar al-Asad, but London? San Francisco?

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