Wael Ghonim's Revolution 2.0

First aired on Q (19/01/12)

wael-175.jpgLast January, Wael Ghonim, a Google marketing manager and online activist based in Cairo, created a Facebook page called "We Are All Khaled Said." It was intended to honour a 27-year-old Egyptian blogger who had been beaten to death by police some months before.

Thousands of Facebook tribute pages go up and down each day with little fanfare. Ghonim's page, however, sparked a pro-democracy revolution that toppled the 30-year-old regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Ghonim, who observed the anger and frustration of young Egyptian activists and bloggers at Said's death, started the page to draw attention to human rights in the country and to engage with other Egyptians. He posted surveys and solicited opinions.

"I put a question that said ... 'Police day is on the 25th. If we all go to the streets, if a 100,000 people take to Cairo's streets, we will do whatever we want ... Would that be a good idea?'"

Every January 25, the Egyptians have National Police Day, a holiday that commemorates the work of the country's police officers.

"A lot of people started sending messages [saying] that would be great. And this is how the snowball started."

You can listen to Jian's entire conversation with Wael Ghonim in the audio clip below.

[ccType=audioclip id=2188417495]


Revolution 2.0

by Wael Ghonim

Buy this book at:

Save on Music, Books and Dvds at Indigo

From the publisher:

"The revolutions sweeping the Middle East in 2011 were unlike any that the world had ever seen.  Brutal regimes that had been in power for many decades were suddenly swarmed by unstoppable mobs of freedom seekers.  Now, one of the key figures behind the Egyptian uprising tells the inside, riveting story of what happened, and presents lessons for all of us on how to unleash the power of crowds.

Wael Ghonim was a little-known, 30-year-old Google executive in the fall of 2010, when he anonymously launched a Facebook page to protest the death of one Egyptian man at the hands of security forces.  The page's followers expanded quickly and moved from online protests to non-confrontational public gatherings. Then, on January 14, 2011, they made history when they announced a revolution pre-scheduled for the 25th.  Over 50,000 friends clamored to join.  On the 25th of January, as the revolution began in earnest, Ghonim was captured and held for eleven days of brutal interrogation-and when he emerged and gave a speech on national television, the protests grew even more intense.  Four days later, Mubarak was gone.

The lessons he draws will inspire each of us: Forget the past.  Don''t plan ahead.  Let the crowd make its own decisions. Welcome to Revolution 2.0.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.