Egypt restores Internet access amid continued Mubarak protests

The Egyptian government has restored Internet service to the country after an unprecedented nationwide Internet shutdown that lasted almost a week, the Internet security firm Renesys confirms.

The communications shutdown, which began on January 27, was meant to make it more difficult for protesters to organize. But it didn’t stop an estimated 250,000 citizens from gathering in Cairo yesterday to call for the end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, which has lasted for three decades. Smaller protests also sprung up in other major Egyptian cities like Alexandria.

By restoring Internet access, the Egyptian government may be hoping to stabilize the turmoil the country is currently facing. Yesterday President Mubarak announced that he wouldn’t seek re-election later this year. But anti-Mubarak protesters are fed up and want him out of the country as soon as possible.

The government first blocked social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook on January 25 — services that have become increasingly important to activists over the last few years. During Iran’s protests in 2009, Twitter became one of the most widely used tools for protesters. Twitter cofounder Biz Stone responded to Egypt’s Internet block last week, declaring “The tweets must flow!” Google ended up launching a speak-to-tweet service last week to help Egyptians be heard (you can listen to recordings at the Speak2Tweet Twitter account).

Photo via Al Jazeera English