Wael Ghonim is not a fiery speaker. He doesn’t wave flags or throw stones, literally or metaphorically. Ghonim is a geek, the kind that met his wife online. “I always believed in the power of the Internet,” the quiet Egyptian said tonight, in a talk presented by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Yet he’s perhaps the only person I’ve heard speak in public that I could honestly, without hyperbole, say helped lead a revolution.
And he did it through Facebook. Ghonim is the former Google executive whose call for a demonstration on an anonymous Facebook page brought out hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, a movement of Jah’s people that ended the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, and changed the world as part of what’s been called the Arab Spring. “You shouldn’t be wasting your time on Facebook; you should be out on the streets,” political activists told him. But Ghonim understood the power of free speech granted by the Internet, while admitting street protests scared him. “We are brave behind the keyboards,” he said tonight. “I always believed the Internet was going to change politics in Egypt.” Continue reading