Before we get all Twittered about the events in Tunisia, letâ€™s put the Jasmine Revolution in perspective. After decades of repression and economic turmoil, a citizenâ€™s act of defiance sparked a peopleâ€™s uprising that ousted an oppressive regime. Citizens demonstrated. Citizens were killed. Citizens changed their government. Letâ€™s not trivialize them as gadgets or hashtags.
What is revealing about this revolution is the way in which citizens discovered it, how they informed one another, and how they mobilized around it. They used their mobile phones, now ubiquitous in North Africa, to communicate via text messaging and Twitter.
…Only Al Jazeera, the Arab-language news network based in Qatar, seemed to recognize the growing tempest in Tunisia and the implications for the rest of the Arab world. By reading the blogs, following the tweets and using its mobile phones, Al Jazeera found signs of political ferment both in Africa and in the Islamic world fed by economic distress, political repression, and young people with the tools â€” including mobile phones and Internet â€” to make changes.
â€œI am certain its (the revolutionâ€™s) success is entirely correlated to the ubiquity of the mobile phone and the Internet,â€ blogged Aly-Khan Saatchu, an investments banker based in Nairobi.