Wael Ghonim: The Power of the People is Greater Than the People in Power
Ghonim, who's at the intersection of Middle East democracy and online activism, cautions observers against second-guessing their support.
Wael Ghonim was a little-known 30-year-old Google exec when he launched a Facebook campaign to protest the death of an Egyptian blogger at the hands of security forces. But the effort propelled him to the forefront of Egypt's movement to overthrow dictator Hosni Mubarak last year. In his new memoir, Ghonim takes us inside the making of a modern revolution—and discusses activism, corruption, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Arab Spring, and his hopes for the future.
In this clip, from a Library Foundation of Los Angeles event, he discusses Egypt's fledgling democracy and online activism with commentator and author Reza Aslan. While street protests rage in Egypt after soccer riots killed 70 last week—the most violent episode since Mubarak's ousting last year—Ghonim remains hopeful:
We wanted this country to change. It is happening. It is changing. But we are recovering from 60 years of military rule, 30 years of dictatorship. It's not going to go like this. [...] Let's always make sure that we see the whole sitautions as it is.\n
And Ghonim has words for Westerners who many be second-guessing their support for a revolution that could usher in a new wave of political Isalm in Egypt:
We need to honestly ask ourselves 'Do we really belief in democracy or not?' If [...] we believe in democracy as far as it brings those we like in power, that is not democracy. [...] If you start using the same arguments a dictator used to use, you are probably not doing the right thing.\n
Ghonim says that what he "cares about as an Egyptian at the moment" is building the core pieces of a democratic system, one that puts Egypt's future in the hands of its people, for better or worse.
Wael Ghonim's book Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater Than the People in Power, came out last month.