I was fortunate to see Alaa Abd El Fattah speak both at PDF over the Summer and just last week at the Silicon Valley Human Rights conference. Every time I have heard him give a talk, I am impressed by his courage, conviction and the way he brings home the personal scale of much of what has happened as part of the Arab Spring. Alaa constantly serves as a reminder that technology alone is not enough, whether that is blogging or social networks; what matters is by whom and how these tools are used.
Even as Alaa spoke at SVHR, he was facing charges back home in Egypt for speaking out against the use of military courts and trials when the time has clearly come to restore the civil and criminal justice systems. Curt Hopkins at ReadWriteWeb has a bit more background both on the current charges and Alaa’s past activism. Upon returning to Egypt after SVHR, Alaa was imprisoned on these charges.