One year later Wael Ghonim reflects on Egypt

February 7, 2012 9:34:55 PM PST
One year ago today a young Google executive made headlines as an inspiration for the Arab Spring. He was hailed as a hero, touted as one of the most influential people on the planet. ABC7 spoke with Wael Ghonim at Stanford on Tuesday about what has happened in the past year and how he sees events unfolding now in Egypt.

To recap, in late January 2011 when the 30-year-old Google executive created a Facebook page calling for democracy in Egypt, he had no idea it would go viral. Ghonim went to Egypt and was arrested and hundreds of thousands of followers turned out in Tahrir Square to protest the government. When Ghonim was released one year ago today, he was credited with helping to spark the revolution.

"Don't focus your cameras on me I am not a hero," said Ghonim on Feb. 7, 2011.

But the cameras did focus on him. Time Magazine listed Ghonim as one of the world's 100 most influential people.

"Yeah, I got a lot of credit and one of the reasons I wrote the book was telling the story from my perspective and trying to explain to people what exactly happened," said Ghonim.

Ghonim's book, Revolution 2.0, is an affirmation of the power of the Egyptian people. But he admits the pace of change in Egypt is slower and more frustrating than he had hoped.

"But I keep reminding myself that this country is recovering from 60 years of military rule, 30 years of dictatorship, it's going to take time," said Ghonim.

This week civilians and police clashed again in the streets of Cairo, again pro-democracy protestors are being killed and branded by the military administration as foreign sponsored traitors.

"You know this doesn't bring me down, this actually makes me more keen to help as much as I can as an individual," said Ghonim.

Ghonim says he cannot despair for Egypt and the protesters cannot either, too much has been gained to give up.

"If someone had come and told me 13 months ago, 'Listen, I'm going to tell you what's going to happen. Mubarak is going to be stepping, you know, out of power and 27 million Egyptians are going to take to the streets to vote for whomever they want in the parliament,' I would say you need to see a psychiatrist," said Ghonim.

Ghonim believes that the treaty with Israel will be maintained and that there will be a peaceful transition of power. On Tuesday night, he is taking his enthusiasm and his faith in the Egyptian people over to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View where he will give a speech.

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