Alaa Abdel Fattah علاء عبد الفتاح, a young Egyptian activist, free software advocate and blogger has been detained by the Egyptian authorities, after protesting the politically motivated trial of two judges who exposed that there was widespread fraud in the recent elections.
About Alaa and Manal
Alaa and his wife Manal run an Egyptian blog aggregator from their Drupal web site. They are known for activism on political and social issues, as well as free software.
I saw Alaa on Al Jazeera last summer, and he looked to me like an Egyptian Richard M. Stallman (the father of GNU and GPL), with his curly locks of hair.
On their site, Alaa and Manal got many fans, as well as earned the wrath of a few. A non-scientific examination of the comments on their site reveal that most of these are probably government paid trolls who hurl the worst kind of personal insults on Alaa and Manal. The irony is that Alaa allows all these comments to be published, except for spammy ones.
The other type of detractors are traditional Egyptians who do not agree with Alaa's permissive lifestyle (e.g. consumption of alcohol, which is a turn off for religiously minded Egyptians).
Courage, Words and Actions
All being told, at least Alaa has stood up and put his beliefs and thoughts into words and actions, not hiding behing an anonymous screen name, and not afraid to go on the streets in demonstrations, taking pictures, publishing them, and blogging about it all.
The religiously minded crowd who are detractors of Alaa should remind themselves that a word of truth against an oppressive ruler is considered to be the best of Jihad افضل الجهاد كلمة حق عند سلطان جائر, that injustice is darkness الظلم ظلمات يوم القيامة and that those who say something and do another are most hated كبر مقتا عند الله ان تقولوا ما لا تفعلون.
Drupal Community Reaction
Since Alaa has contributed the Arabic translation for Drupal, Karthik posted to the development mailing list. Ber Kessels took the lead with a Free Alaa Google bomb filter for Drupal that will cause searches on Egypt to be directed to the Free Alaa blog. This was picked up by others, such as Liza of culturekitchen, and Gunnar at Langemark cafe. A story was posted on Drupal.org about Alaa being arrested.
Free and Open Source Communities
Outside of Drupal, there was a lot of action too. A Technorati tag for Google Bombing for Alaa was quickly setup. Slashdot posted the news of Alaa being arrested, but I do not remember it making the front page. As usual, the discussions there shifted to the US and Bush, and had little to do with Alaa or Egypt.
The news was posted to Digg, but did not get much diggs (only 20), and a single comment was posted! A call for action by Google bombing was posted, but did not do better.
That is all I can write for now, coming late into the fray ...