Wael Ghonim was the head of marketing for Google Middle East and North Africa when the Egyptian revolution broke out. During the uprising he launched an anonymous Facebook page to protest the death of an Egyptian man at the hands of the security forces. From there he became Egypt’s most notable cyberactivist, using his marketing skills to help foment the Egyptian uprising.
He was imprisoned and brutally tortured for 11 days and when he was released, he gave a speech on national television that proved to be very motivating for the protestors on Tahrir Square. Four days later on February 6th, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarek resigned. But the situation in Egypt is still very unstable.
Egyptians recently went to the polls for the first time since that fall of Mubarek and voted overwhelming support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist Muslims who may take the country in a fundamentalist direction. Critics from within and without Egypt contend that the military still exercises too much power and that Islamist party rule will bring anti-Western, anti-Israeli factions to power.
Last Wednesday, during a Port Said soccer game that was marked by fans lighting flares and throwing objects at one another, a stampede broke out and ended in dozens getting crushed to death. All told, 74 people were killed, which launched another round of riots and protests that have been raging since, so far injuring up to 400 people.
Protesters blame Egypt’s Interior Ministry in Cairo for letting the soccer incident get out of hand. Now, they are fighting in the streets and attempting to break into police stations. Most of the injuries thus far are due to the inhalation of tear gas, but in Suiz, for instance, two people died when police used live rounds to hold people back.
In a recent NY Times op-ed Ghonim wrote, “Revolution is a process: its failure and success cannot be measured after only a few months or years. We must continue to believe.” Ghonim joins Larry Mantle to talk about his new book Revolution 2.0 in which chronicles his participation in the Egyptian uprising.
What is the future of democracy in Egypt and can the Egyptian people create the kind of change that they fought and died for on Tahrir square? What led to the recent incident in Port Said? How can a peaceful end be reached between the state and the revolutionaries?
Wael Ghonim, author of "Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater than the People in Power" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Wael Ghonim will be speaking at the Los Angeles Theatre Center with author Reza Azlan at 8 pm this evening. For more information on the event, click here..