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Double-Edged Sword Of Too Much Attention

There's an interesting discussion on Marc Lynch's blog (Abu Aardvark) about the dangers of egging on democracy activists, especially those linked to people in the West through new technologies such as social networking.

Here's Lynch:

[H]ere's the question which I posed several times last night: should we in the West support these internet activists, if we are not prepared to protect them from the consequences of their actions? This is an issue which has haunted me for years, as I’ve seen a succession of friends and acquaintances assaulted, arrested, harrassed, even tortured for their political activism.

Abd al-Monem Mahmoud, the Muslim Brotherhood blogger, arguably owes his arrest and ongoing legal problems at least in part to the prominence I gave him in an article I wrote for the Guardian (raising his profile in the West enough to make him worth going after by the regime's guys). He never complained - indeed, he told me that he knew the risks and appreciated the help and the publicity - and neither have any of the other dozens of such activists I've talked to over the years.

The flip side, of course, is the good such attention can do -- the power of media to raise the profile of the oppressed so that governments and diplomats get involved. It's a fine line: sometimes the attention hurts, sometimes it helps.

Read the discussion here.

-- Luke Allnutt

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