Cultural relativity is an amazing thing. While American parents worry about their kids being on Facebook, Egyptian parents are naming their kids “Facebook” to commemorate the events surrounding the #Jan25 revolution.
According to Al-Ahram (one of the most popular newspapers in Egypt) a twenty-something Egyptian man has named his first born daughter “Facebook” in tribute to the role the social media service played in organizing the protests in Tahrir Square and beyond.
Helmed by now-famous Googler Wael Ghonim, the “We Are Khaled Said” Facebook page showed up within 5 days of Said’s death in June and served as a hub for dissidence against Egyptian police brutality as well as a way to disseminate logistical information about the escalating anti-government protests until Mubarak’s resignation. Other activist pages like one actually called “Tahrir Square” cropped up shortly afterward.
A New Day
Man Names His Newborn Girl Facebook
A young man in his twenties wanted to express his gratitude about the victories the youth of 25th of January have achieved and chose to express it in the form of naming his firstborn girl “Facebook” Jamal Ibrahim (his name.) The girl’s family, friends, and neighbors in the Ibrahimya region gathered around the new born to express their continuing support for the revolution that started on Facebook. “Facebook” received many gifts from the youth who were overjoyed by her arrival and the new name. A name [Facebook] that shocked the entire world.
There are five million Facebook users in Egypt, more so than any other country in the Middle East/North Africa region. Facebook itself has reported an increase in Egyptian users in the past month, with 32,000 Facebook groups and 14,000 pages created in the two weeks after January 25th.
While the baby girl could just have easily been called “YouTube,” “Twitter” “Google” or even “Cellphone Camera,” it seems like Facebook has become the umbrella symbol for how social media can spread the message of freedom. There are countless manefestation of this, the above graffiti in Cairo, “Thank you Facebook” protest sign, and Wael Ghonim himself personally expressing his gratitude to Mark Zuckerberg on CNN.
I’m hearing that the temporary military government has begun using Facebook to reach out to Egyptian youth, even creating a Facebook Fan Page page (here). The Ministry of Interior, in attempt to repair the image of the state police, has set up multiple pages. And while my guess is that being a locus of political uprisings wasn’t the original intent of the American college campus-based social network, somewhere Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has got to be secretly proud.
The Internet as a whole should win the Nobel Peace Prize this year for all it’s done for democracy in the MENA region, but let’s not let this naming kids after websites get out of hand. I’d hate for little “Facebook” to have to share a classroom with a little “AOL,” or worse a little “Yahoo.” Even though you have to admit, a girl named “Quora” would be kind of pretty.
Jokes aside, click here for an excellent video of how young activists in Cairo documented the Egyptian protests despite the Internet blocks.
Thanks: Rami Taibah
Translation help: Mohamed El-Zohairy, Fadi Andraus, Om z and Wael Al-Sallami