Christian Science Monitor on political texting
June 30th, 2005
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The Christian Science Monitor published a fairly extensive article about the use of e-mail and text-messaging to organize political action worldwide.

In March, citizens of Lebanon used e-mails and text messaging to organize a huge rally in Beirut, drawing together 1 million demonstrators to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops and the resignation of the government. Late in April, due to pressures from the United Nations and mass anti-Syrian demonstrations, 14,000 troops finally pulled out, ending Syria’s 29-year presence in Lebanon.

In Kuwait, women mobilized in record numbers to rally for the right to vote. Unlike past years, this year’s protests have been much more effective because text messaging allowed Kuwaiti demonstrators to pull young people out of school and into the streets, according to press reports. Their efforts paid off. Kuwait passed a landmark amendment in May, granting women the right to vote and to run for parliamentary and local council positions.

Of course, text messaging can also land in the hands of terrorist groups. Al Qaeda has been using mobile communication to organize. There also have been cases where text messaging has led to violence, as in Nigeria during the Miss World pageant in 2002, when more than 200 people were killed in riots. “I don’t attribute good or evil to mobilizing,” says Rheingold. “In fact, when it comes to elections, you want people to think and deliberate. You don’t want people to vote impulsively.”

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