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Tuesday
Feb152011

Social Media Fuels Protests in Iran, Bahrain and Yemen

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MANAMA, Bahrain) -- More than 10,000 protesters swarmed the Main Square in the capital of Bahrain Tuesday, one of the largest political demonstrations ever seen in this nation's recent history. And a protester was killed by police when a funeral procession for another protester killed Monday escalated into new clashes.

In Iran, after the biggest mass protest since the 2009 elections, members of Parliament gathered for a deadly chant, shouting that key opposition leaders "must be executed."

And in Yemen there was a fifth straight day of uprisings, with demonstrators calling for the ouster of the authoritarian president.

Behind all this was the power of the Internet, with protesters galvanized by a social media revolution.

Despite the attempts of governments to block it, a Facebook page calling for "solidarity demonstrations" is creating a cyber wildfire. Hundreds of hits on the website, turning into thousands, turning into upwards of 12 million -- 90 percent coming from Iran.

The call is specific: "We encourage you to join the thousands on the street right now," the page says.

The call spread through cell phones, smart phones and through people like Internet activist Omid Memarian outside Iran.

"I think this time the [Iranian] government really underestimated the power of social media," Memarian said. "They thought because of the severe crackdown that we witnessed after the election that people would not dare to go to the streets."

In Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, protesters photographed the funeral of a demonstrator, and had it on YouTube instantly, inspiring even more to join the call for democracy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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