Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wolman's “The Instigators” a quick, incisive read

“Wired” Magazine contributing editor followed Egypt's Arab Spring Facebook revolution from 2008 to the present to get a fascinating story

Issue No. 4 of “The Atavist” ( carries a fabulous piece of journalism by David Wolman – profiled at one point by the Egyptian secret police as “a Mossad agent named Wolman – that tells in brisk style the story of how a handful of students armed with smart phones made a ruthless dictator of 30 years' tenure go bye bye.

Blow by blow, Mr. Wolman tells the story of how the fatal undercover police beating of a thirtyish businessman named Khaled Said in a Cairo coffee shop led to the overthrow of one of the world's most brutal governments – and sparked a series of similar events throughout the mideast.

How was it done? First of all, the picture of the man's brutalized face went viral on Facebook right away. Secondly, the instigators, led by the likes of Ahmed Maher, a co-founder of the April 6 movement, scheduled meet-ups on beaches, public squares and in front of police stations on crucial days such as, you guessed it, “Police Day,” a national holiday honoring police officers.

Within a couple of years, as many as 50 to 100,000 protestors could be summoned on short notice through the nodes of the internet e-mail system, gmail, Facebook and Twitter.

Using non-violent tactics and the ancient rules of warfare outlined by Sun Tzu to fight on ground of one's own choosing and irritate the enemy when he's angry, to leave him no respite when he's tired, the seemingly unrelated series of events blossomed to the point that the only safe place to be in Egypt from last January through the spring was in the middle of Tahrir Square, in the middle of the revolution.

When the dust cleared, Hosni Mubarak was gone, the hated police subdued and the military in open rebellion against their traditional leaders. Unrest is far from over, however.

Bloodshed erupted Saturday evening when a rumor spread that a Christian woman who married a Muslim had been abducted and was held against her will in the Virgin Mary Church in a slum district of Cairo named Imbaba.

Christians and Muslims began to pelt each other with stones because of the military and police reluctance to intercede in the violence that resulted, leaving 12 people dead and the church burned..

Mr. Wolman's piece on the April 6 movement is also available through Kindle and


  1. Who is that person pictured at the top of this post? Definitely not David Wolman.

  2. I do believe it is a snapshot of Mr. Ahmed Maher. In this photo, he is not wearing his glasses. - The Legendary