Egyptain Exec Says Social Networking is Key to Political Activism

By Kenna McHugh Comment

“You can’t keep a dictatorship alive in the highly connected 21st century,” Google Executive Wael Ghonim said after receiving the John F. Kennedy Library’s “Profiles in Courage” award on behalf of the Egyptian people. The Egyptian people stood up in January and February to help bring down President Hosni Mubarak regime.

The award honors slain President John F. Kennedy, whose 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same title profiled U.S. senators who worked across party lines on unpopular issues. Past recipients include former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chairman Sheila Bair.

Ghonim helped Egypt’s political movement fall into place, partially, by creating a Facebook page in June 2010 that condemned the violent killing of an Alexandria businessman by Egyptian police.”We are all Khaled Said,” later became a channel to advance democracy and organize large-scale pro-democracy protests in Cairo, involving the “Day of Revolt” on January 25th. “Day of Revolt” drew tens of thousands of ordinary Egyptians onto the streets in protest.

“Wael’s single act provided the spark for countless others, and a movement began to build,” said Caroline Kennedy, the president’s daughter and head of the JFK Library Foundation. “The people of Egypt used the power of citizen activism to break down barriers of isolation and fear,” reports Reuters.

Ghonim social media act was not overlooked by the authorities. He was detained by Egyptian police for 11 days during the uprisings. When pressure came from international human rights groups as well as his company, he was released.

After accepting the award Ghonim made it clear that it was the younger generation in the Arab world that sent a strong message to every dictator. “The struggle for freedom in Egypt isn’t over yet,” he added.