Google Executive Wael Ghonim Takes Online Activism to a New Level in Egypt, Sparks an Arrest and Is Back to Tell the Tale

Online activism in Egypt has reached a new level with some big names behind it. Wael Ghonim, a key protester in the Egyptian uprising is an influential figure in social media who led to this uprising with his online activism. As it turns out, Wael Ghonim is also the Head of Marketing @ Google – Middle East & North Africa.


Image via: LA Times

A week ago, Ghonim disappeared mysteriously, sparking rumors that the Egyptian police arrested him for his anti-government activities. Thereafter, protesters at Tahrir Square in Cairo adopted him as a symbolic leader and demanded his immediate release. However, his arrest was confirmed only this Sunday, ironically with the announcement of his release too. Two days before his arrest, Ghonim posted on his Facebook wall saying,

I said one year ago that the Internet will change the political scene in Egypt and some Friends made fun of me :),

The exact nature of Ghonim’s activities is unclear. However, they were alarming enough to spark an arrest. The WSJ has aggregated some of them as,

Last year, Mr. Ghonim was one of four administrators running the first of the major Facebook pages that became a virtual headquarters for the protest movement, according to a collaborator in the political opposition, and according to an Internet activist familiar with the situation. Mr. Ghonim also set up the official campaign website for opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei and volunteered as a tech consultant for other opposition groups, according to Ziad Al-Alimi, a senior aide to Mr. ElBaradei.

The police also arrested Mohammad ElBaradei, a noble peace prizewinner and once the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. ElBaradei was the patriotic face of the protests demanding democracy in Egypt. Together, these two leaders played a key role in redefining the state of online political activism, sparked a nationwide unrest and led to the Government killing the Internet as a safety measure.

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Chinmoy Kanjilal

Chinmoy Kanjilal is a FOSS enthusiast and evangelist. He is passionate about Android. Security exploits turn him on and he loves to tinker with computer networks. You can connect with him on Twitter @ckandroid.