Wael Ghonim Brings All the Protesters to the Square

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Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Crowds have been flooding Tahrir Square with renewed vigor on the fifteenth day of protests and not because they heard about Mubarak's German spa retreat. Wael Ghonim, the charismatic Google exec who was freed yesterday after being detained for nearly two weeks, has "galvanized" protesters who demanded his release. Ghonim, who helped organize the Facebook campaign that built momentum toward the uprising, said he was neither a hero nor a traitor, all he did was "use a keyboard. The real heroes are the ones on the ground." During a moving television interview, Ghonim, who says he was kidnapped and held by state security, bowed his head in tears when he said, "I want to tell families who lost their sons this is not our fault. This is the fault of those clinging to power." That televised interview instantly transformed Ghonim, already a symbol of popular unrest, into an icon. Omar Suleiman, Hosni Mubarak's vice-president, tried to placate the opposition by conceding to constitutional amendments and other measures for a peaceful transfer of power, but thousands of protesters who have gathered in Cairo and Alexandria continue to demand nothing less than seeing Mubarak leave office. To a roaring crowd in Tahrir Square, Ghonim said, “We will not abandon our demand, and that is the departure of the regime."

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Protests Swell in Rejection of Egypt’s Limited Reforms
[NYT]
Wael Ghonim Has 'Galvanized' Protesters In Egypt [NPR]