Wael Ghonim is a top Google marketing executive in the Middle East. He is a husband, son, father of two. He is also the administrator of the famous #Jan25 facebook page titled, “We are all Khaled Said.”
On January 27, 2011, two days after the start of the unrest in Egypt, Ghonim went missing. There was a huge campaign waged to secure his release. Yesterday the ruling party in Egypt relented and released him. Even in his moment of release, though, he was defiant of the people of whom he is trying to rid his country:
First word of Ghonim’s release came from Google. “Huge relief–Wael Ghonim has been released. Our love to him and his family,” Google said in a Tweet at approximately 9 pm Cairo time.
On Ghonim’s own Twitter feed, silent since Jan. 27, came two messages — one relieved, one defiant — at about the same time.
“Freedom is a bless that deserves fighting for it. #Jan25,” Ghonim said first from his Blackberry. And then: “Gave my 2 cents to Dr. Hosam Badrawy. who was reason why I am out today. Asked him resign cause that’s the only way I’ll respect him #Jan25.”
Within hours, Ghonim did an interview on DreamTV. Here is a rough transcript of what he said (taken from a twitter feed).
The videos (his single interview divided into 3 parts), with English subtitles (hit cc on the bottom bar), are available here. I highly, highly, highly encourage that you watch them.
I think the power of Ghonim’s interview and his story is that it re-centers the struggle taking place across Egypt as an Egyptian struggle.
No matter how much we Americans would love for this to be about us, it simply is not. We need to stop acting like we have the right to tell these people, like Ghonim, what the right thing is for their country. They already know. They. already. know.
From the transcript of his interview (linked above – though the videos with subtitles are much, much better):
On Thursday night, at 1am I was with a friend, a colleague from work. I was taking a taxi, suddenly four people surrounded the car, I yelled “Help me, Help me” I was blindfolded then taken away. I will say this as it is: nothing justifies kidnapping, you can arrest me by the law, I am not a drug dealer or terrorist.
Inside I met people who loved Egypt (State Security people) but their methods & mine are not the same. I pay these guys salaries from my taxes, I have the right to ask the ministers where my money is going, this is our country. I believe that if things get better those (good state security people he met) will serve Egypt well. Don’t stand in our way, we are going to serve Egypt. I saw a film director get slapped, they told him “You will die here” Why? […]
There were 300 fake registrations on my facebook page, all negative comments, about how we were allegedly being paid. I was the admin of the page but others paid for it. We are dreamers (says it in English). There was no Muslim Brotherhood presence in organising these protests, it was all spontaneous, voluntary. Even when the Muslim Brotherhood decided to take part it was their choice to do so. This belongs to Egyptian youth.
I cried when I heard that there are people who died, officers and protesters, this is my country. […]
We have to restore dignity to all Egyptians. We have to end corruption. No more theft. Egyptians are good people. We are a beautiful people. Please everybody, this is not a time to settle scores, this is a time to build our country. […]
The treatment was very good, they knew I was a good Egyptian. I was blindfolded for 12 days, I didn’t see their faces. They wanted details, information. “Are the people who planned this outsiders?” […]
Wael @Ghonim’s last words: I want to tell families who lost their sons this is not our fault. This is the fault of those clinging to power.