One of the key activists behind Egypt’s “Facebook Revolution” is now giving advice to a new group of protesters: the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The protesters in New York’s Zuccotti Park — and their offshoots around the country — often cite the mass demonstrations earlier this year in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as their inspiration. So maybe it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Ahmed Maher, one of the leading figures in those Egyptian protests, has been corresponding for weeks with the Occupy Wall Streeters, whom he calls “our brothers.”
Maher is one of the founders of the April 6 Youth, which used Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to galvanize Egyptians against President Hosni Mubarak. Recently, however, his attention has turned toward America, where he’s been chatting online with Occupy activists. Those conversations center around practical advice from a successful Egyptian revolutionary. Usually, they occur through Facebook. On Tuesday, for the first time, they happened face to face.
“We talk on the internet about what happened in Egypt, about our structure, about our organization, how to organize a flash mob, how to organize a sit-in,” Maher tells Danger Room, and “how to be non-violent with police.”
That’s the message he brings to D.C.’s McPherson Square, home of the local Occupy offshoot, for an impromptu Tuesday afternoon visit. The denizens of the downtown park flock to an excited Maher when they learn an Egyptian revolutionary is there to support them. “We kept peaceful, because we wanted to attract people to us,” Maher explains. “If we used nonviolence, without killing any soldiers, then the people would help us.”