Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wael Ghonim, Egyptian Patriot...

The events in Egypt are overpowering, aren’t they?  Pictures of the enormous crowds of protestors that have amassed in Tahrir (Liberation) Square day after day for weeks speak volumes about pent up political and economic frustrations with the current Mubarak regime and its power structure.  We are now hearing that the unions are beginning to join this protest that appears to have been initiated by young people who have used the internet and Facebook to organize and ignite the anti-government protest.
While these actions were initially begun in Cairo, they quickly spread throughout Egypt.  We are now hearing of supportive, anti-Mubarak protests in Jordan and even in the United States. [Here]  And now, the demonstation in Egypt that seemed to be losing steam has gotten renewed vigor through a tv interview of a 30-year old Google executive/techie named Wael Ghonim.
Ghonim was one of the organizers of the movement and was the creator of the Facebook page “We are all Khalid Said.”  (Khalid Said was a young techie who is believed to have been brutally killed by police in Alexandria last year.)  Even many of Ghonim’s friends did not know that he was at the epicenter of the gathering storm of protest, although he worked night and day on his Facebook page.
On January 27th, Wael tweeted this ominous message: [Here]  
Pray for Egypt.  Very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people. We are all ready to die.
He was right to worry.  Soon after he typed that message, he was arrested, blindfolded, interrogated and held in secret isolation for almost two weeks before he was released. 
Soon after being released from jail, he was interviewed on Dream TV, a satellite station, by a popular Egyptian newscaster, Mona el-Shazly.  The interview is extraordinary.  If you have not seen parts of this, I urge you to watch at least some of it.  [Here]  You can hear and see his commitment, his decency, his pride and love of his country and his yearning for democracy.  He is an impressive, very intelligent, articulate and committed young man.
At the end of the interview, Mona el-Shazly showed pictures of individual young men who had been killed in the uprising.  This was the final straw for Wael.  He put his head down in his hands and sobbed, only raising his head to say through his anguish: [Here
I want to say to every mother and every father that lost his child, I am sorry, but this is not our fault.  I swear to God, this is not our fault.  It is the fault of everyone who was holding on to power greedily and would not let it go.
He then got up from the interview and walked away.  Mona pulled the ear plug from her ear and with concern on her face, quickly followed him out, ending the extraordinary interview.  Ghonim has said again and again that he is not a hero, but the swelling crowds belie his assertion.  When both Ghonim and Mona appeared before a jammed Liberation Square the next day, they were greeted with a roaring chorus of approval.
This man is an Egyptian patriot.  Let us pray that Obama recognizes that fact.  Let us pray that we make it clear to the Egyptian people that we are on their side.  Let us also pray that we play our cards correctly.  
There will not be a second chance...

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