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Twitter blocked in Egypt after political unrest

Protesters demand removal of President Mubarak

Twitter was blocked in Egypt on Tuesday as the country witnessed a large protest against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

"We can confirm that Twitter was blocked in Egypt around 8 am PT today," Twitter said late on Tuesday.

"The block is impacting both Twitter.com and other applications," it added. Protesters took to the streets in their thousands demanding an end to the rule of President Mubarak, who has ruled the country since 1981. At least three people were killed in the protests and fighting that took place, according to reports.

"We believe that the open exchange of information and views benefits societies and helps governments better connect with their people," Twitter added.

Herdict, a project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, which tracks user views, had earlier reported that Twitter was down in Egypt following the civil unrest.

The protesters are likely to have been inspired by the overthrow in Tunisia this month of the country's President, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali [CQ], after protests by the people, these reports said.

The Egyptian protesters are using other social networking sites including Facebook to coordinate their activities as well as to communicate their stand to the rest of the world. On one Facebook page an anonymous author said the protestors are demanding democracy and free elections in the country.

The page holds Khaled Said, a 28-year-old who was allegedly tortured and killed by Egyptian police, as the symbol of the protestors. The page appealed to international supporters to put pressure on representatives and members of parliament in their countries not to support "dictatorships like Mubarak's."

The importance of social networks like Twitter was first highlighted during the 2009 protests in Iran against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which became known as the "Twitter Revolution".

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