Egyptian ‘Sandmonkey’ Blogger Unmasks Himself in Cairo

    by Jaron Gilinsky
    February 14, 2011
    Mahmoud Salem, a.k.a. the Sandmonkey blogger, reveals his identity on camera for the first time to MediaShift's Jaron Gilinsky in Tahrir Square

    CAIRO, EGYPT — I have been following the Egyptian pro-democracy blog, Rantings of a Sandmonkey, for years now. I have long wondered about the identity of its author, who describes himself as “a micro-celebrity, blogger, activist, new media douchebag, pain in the ass!” on his blog. I contacted him several times on previous trips to Egypt, requesting an interview, and getting no reply. In pre-revolution Egypt, he was rightfully too scared to talk to a journalist. I suspected that amidst the revolution, while all of pro-democracy Egypt was in Tahrir Square, that he might have the confidence to reveal his identity. It turns out I was right.

    I received an email from a man calling himself Sam Adam, claiming to be the author of the blog. He had been beaten up by Egyptian State police on February 3 while delivering medical supplies to Tahrir Square. He said that he got beat up pretty badly, and was in hiding with his family in Heliopolis, a Cairo neighborhood. I got the impression that he was summoning up the courage to go back to Tahrir Square.

    "Egyptians are the original social networkers...They shut down the Internet and social networks, but the human social network was not shut down." - Mahmoud Salem

    I would end up meeting him there three days later, on February 6. He felt emboldened by the bravery of his fellow pro-democracy activists and wanted to come out to the media in order to seek justice for his assailants. He revealed his identity for the first time to Eliot Spitzer on CNN in an audio-only interview. My interview with Sam Adam, a.k.a. the Sandmonkey was his first on-camera interview. It turns out his real name is Mahmoud Salem.


    Jaron Gilinsky is a journalist and documentary filmmaker based in Jerusalem. As a freelance video correspondent for Time, the New York Times, and Current TV, he has produced and directed scores of documentaries on a range of international topics. Jaron regularly posts his videos and articles on his personal blog.

    Tagged: bloggers egypt freedom of expression mahmoud salem sam adam sandmonkey

    Comments are closed.

  • Who We Are

    MediaShift is the premier destination for insight and analysis at the intersection of media and technology. The MediaShift network includes MediaShift, EducationShift, MetricShift and Idea Lab, as well as workshops and weekend hackathons, email newsletters, a weekly podcast and a series of DigitalEd online trainings.

    About MediaShift »
    Contact us »
    Sponsor MediaShift »
    MediaShift Newsletters »

    Follow us on Social Media