Google man Wael Ghonim emerges as the face of Egypt protests

By @ibtimes on
Google Inc executive Wael Ghonim is escorted through a mass crowd inside Tahrir Square in Cairo
Google Inc executive Wael Ghonim is escorted through a mass crowd inside Tahrir Square in Cairo February 8, 2011. One man's tears provided a new impetus on Tuesday to protesters in Egypt seeking to keep up momentum in their campaign, now in its third week, to topple President Hosni Mubarak. Ghonim, a Google executive detained and blindfolded by state security for 12 days, broke down in a television interview on Monday after his release saying a system that arrested people for speaking out must be torn down. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

The ongoing anti-government protests in Egypt now has a face in Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian-born Google marketing executive who first hit the headlines after he disappeared into police custody last week.

Re-emerging right at a time when the protests were seemingly losing steam, Ghonim has revived the movement to topple President Hosni Mubarak's regime. Although the youngster is reluctant to be called a hero, the huge crowd he drew at Cairo's Tahrir Square on Tuesday spoke volumes on his appeal. 

After the much-publicized 12 day detainment in the custody of Egypt's security services and the subsequent release, all it took was a emotional TV interview to recapture the attention of Egyptians. 

I'm not a hero, he said on Feb. 7, when he appeared live on one of Egypt's most watched talk shows, on the Dream 2 television channel.

Google fought for the release of its marketing manager for the Middle East and North Africa. 

After being released on Monday, Ghanim expressed his gratitude to Google on Twitter, posting: @Google for all the efforts you did in 'searching' for me. Today 'I'm feeling lucky' that I work for this company.

The Dubai-based manager for the search engine giant initially came to hailed for his role in organising the dissidence through Facebook. 

The Facebook page, which became the rallying point for the protestors, was named 'We are all Khaled Said'. Khaled Said was a businessman who died in police custody in Alexandria in June 2010.

Soon after being freed, Ghonim went on to make another moving gesture by meeting Said's mother, Laila, for the first time. 

Wael Ghoneim at Tahrir square today (Tuesday) met Khaled Said's mother for the first time ever. Although Wael started Khaled Said's campaign, he never had a chance to meet Khaled's mother in person for security reasons as he was hiding his identity, read a post on the social networking site.

After he was greeted on to the stage with thunderous uproar, Ghonim re-energised the protests by asserting, We will not abandon our demand.

Meanwhile, another group called 'I delegate Wael Ghonim to speak in the name of Egypt's revolutionaries' has emerged on Facebook. So far, 200,000 people have 'Liked' the page. 
But the question now is will the educated and tech savvy youngster accept the identity of a resistance icon?

A report in LA Times that recounts Ghonim's Tuesday Tahrir Square address probably has the answer. To a reporter's question: Wael, 100,000 Egyptians on Facebook have asked you to be their spokesman. Will you do it?, he answered,  I don't know.

Join the Discussion