Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Hamas 'the enemy' Hashtag used widely in Egypt

A highly-charged discussion is taking place on social media in the Arab world - especially in Egypt - on the hashtag "The Enemy's Name is Hamas".

Coming several days into a surge in fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, which is dominated by Hamas, there's no doubt that this hashtag is provocative.

العدو_اسمه_حماس - which translates as "The Enemy's Name is Hamas" - has been used sporadically over the past 10 months, but has spiked over the past week, with more than 5,000 tweets, and a heated discussion on Facebook. Some slam Hamas as "terrorists". Others express shock at the tenor of the discussion.

The hashtag has been used most widely in Egypt, and gathered pace after rocket attacks in the Sinai peninsula at the weekend in which seven Egyptian civilians and a soldier were killed. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis - a jihadist group which is linked to al-Qaeda - is suspected of being behind the attack.

Many were clearly angered. Israelis are "warning people in Gaza before they hit them, while we are being killed in our country and our homes," tweeted Asia Omar a blogger who describes herself as someone who "loves the army and hates the Muslim Brotherhood". Others chimed in in a similar vein.

The Egyptian authorities launched a crackdown on the Brotherhood after the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi a year ago. Since then, public opinion in Egypt has hardened against the Islamist movement. Attitudes towards Hamas - an offshoot of the Brotherhood - have also become more negative inside Egypt. The government in Cairo considers the group a threat, accusing it of supporting militants in the Sinai and of being involved in a terrorist plot with Morsi and Hezbollah. Hamas has vigorously denied both allegations.

But some in the Arab world have expressed shock at the level of condemnation of Hamas and have been equally firm in their response. "I am really speechless," tweeted Palestinian activist and writer Sabir Alian. "When I saw this hashtag... I logged on passionately to respond, thinking that the Zionists are the ones who created it, but I am shocked to find out that Egyptians have done it instead!"

Many in Egypt have also condemned the hashtag, and one Saudi Twitter user tweeted: "The enemy is the one who created this hashtag - the one who stands with the Jew against the Muslim."


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