Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Birth of a Hero - Wael Ghonim

It's nowhere yet, because I think all those journalists who keep updating the live feeds on the Egyptian Revolution went home to sleep, but tomorrow there will be one name on everybody's lips:

Wael Ghonim.

Wael Ghonim was captured--kidnapped, actually--at the very start of the Egyptian Revolution, and has been detained for the past 12 days. Blindfolded. Interrogated. (But not tortured, he says).

Why? Why him? Why 12 days?

Because he tweeted and facebooked about political change in Egypt? Because he made Mohamed ElBaradei's website?

There are thousands of young Egyptians who are the same, and the ones we heard were detained, were detained for a day or two, and then released. The journalists too--a few hours, a day, then they could go, it seemed.

So why Wael Ghonim?

A few minutes ago, Egypt found out.

Wael was released in the afternoon today, Monday the 7th of February. There were some false reports at first, but finally he was released, and the whole Twitter community welcomed him back as if he were everybody's brother. It was mentioned, too, on these live news feeds of the major news agencies I was talking about (I monitor Al-Jazeera's, The Guardian's, and BBC's).

Then, everybody forgot about him a little and concentrated on getting all the other activists released, cracking Mubarak jokes, and talking about the next step for the Revolution not to lose momentum.

That was until Dream TV broadcasted a live interview with Wael Ghonim and the whole Revolution shifted and Egypt finally got a hero (who is alive, unlike the around 300 who lost their lives fighting for the freedom of their people).

Wael Ghonim is the young man behind the Facebook page that essentially started this whole Revolution.

Kolena Khaled Said. We Are All Khaled Said.

Did I tell you about Khaled? He's the young Egyptian blogger who was brutally beaten to death because he posted pictures of corrupt Egyptian police officers on his blog last June. For all of you who think you can handle it (but please be warned), you can see how he used to look, and the way he looked after his killers were done with him here.

Kolena Khaled Said has 501 925 members as I'm writing this. That's half a million. And it is widely accepted that it is this Facebook group that essentially started the 25 January movement in Egypt. The 25 January movement that lead to this full-out revolution we've seen unfold over the past two weeks.

And until an hour ago, nobody knew who was behind it; who had started the group. Everybody was out on the streets because they were inspired by the message the group was spreading, either directly or indirectly, but nobody knew who was behind it.

But then Wael Ghonim comes on live TV and cries. Saying that he was the admin of the Facebook group. And that he only found out yesterday what had happened in his country over the past two weeks. The millions out on the streets. The hundreds killed. The thousands injured. The concessions made by the government, the young Egyptians who won't give up and who won't go home until Mubarak steps down and Egypt is free and democratic.

He cried. And he said he is not a traitor. There are no traitors; all those behind the Facebook groups that call for demonstrations are Egyptians.

And he said he is sorry for those who lost their children, but it is not their fault, it is the fault of the regime.

Then he broke down. As the music was playing and pictures of those who have given their lives in the Revolution were showing, he broke down and walked out of the studio, weeping.

I only saw the last few minutes of the interview, but it was enough to understand that the Egyptian Revolution just got its hero.

Watch for the youtube clip tomorrow morning.

Bookmark and Share

No comments: