Remember when a global telecommunications company helped inspire this year’s Egyptian revolution? Neither do scores of anti-Mubarak activists who are furious over Vodafone’s attempt to capitalize on the country’s revolutionary spirit with a promotional video claiming just that, even after the company went along with the regime’s orders to block telephone and Internet service during the protests.
Apologists for Vodafone may ask what choice its directors had when state officials demanded the suppression of Egypt’s communication systems, when the failure to do so might have meant imprisonment or even death. This justification well might be met with the question of what decision the estimated 135 protesters who lost their lives in the uprising made when faced with a similar, no less terrifying moral crisis. —ARK
The short film features screengrabs of Facebook and Twitter messages posted by Egyptians approving of the Vodafone ad campaign, then an audio recording of Hosni Mubarak’s resignation as president being announced on TV.
In fact, many pro-change activists blame Vodafone and other mobile phone companies for following Egyptian government orders and implementing a communications blackout at the height of the revolution. They have condemned the advert as a “sickening” attempt to push up sales by “riding the revolutionary bandwagon”, and an insult to the hundreds who died in the struggle to bring down Mubarak.
“Apparently this tagline inspired people to take the streets,” said prominent blogger Mohamed El-Dahshan in one of many angry and satirical responses that have spread across the web. “I mean, never mind the years of activism, the protests, the decades of cumulated grievances, the terrible economic situation, the trampled political freedoms, the police brutality, the torture, etc. Nah – we just watched a Vodafone ad, and thought: ‘Hey! We’re powerful! Let’s topple the president!’”