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Monday, May 23, 2011

Egypt’s Wael Ghonim: ‘Through Technology You Can Actually Help Change The World’

Egyptian Wael Ghonim, center, the 30-year-old Google Inc. marketing manager who was a key organizer of the online campaign that sparked the first protest on Jan. 25, walks into Tahrir Square after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's televised statement to his nation, in downtown Cairo, Egypt. (AP)

Egyptian Wael Ghonim, center, the 30-year-old Google Inc. marketing manager who was a key organizer of the online campaign that sparked the first protest on Jan. 25, walks into Tahrir Square after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's televised statement to his nation, in downtown Cairo, Egypt. (AP)

BOSTON — Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who launched a Facebook page that became the online heart of the Egyptian revolution, today received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award from Caroline Kennedy on behalf of the people of Egypt.

Ghonim told Here & Now’s Robin Young that despite the problems facing his country, he believes Egypt will never return to the way it was under former President Hosni Mubarak.

“Whatever problems we are facing now is going to make us simply stronger,” Ghonim said.

The military has been running the country since Mubarak was forced to step down from power on Feb. 11. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for September and presidential elections could come next year.

The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic party, is in a strong position to become a dominant player in Egyptian politics. But Ghonim said he isn’t worried about that party.

“I tend to disagree with those who want to get people scared of the Muslim Brotherhood or any other power in Egypt,” Ghonim said. “I think we need to adopt real democracy, which means we let the people decide on their own, and whomever comes in power, based on a democratic process should be empowered to lead the country and take it the way forward.”

Ghonim said he has no plans to get involved in the country’s politics, and is putting his energy toward helping the people of Egypt overcome poverty and working on his upcoming book, “Revolution 2.0.”

The book focuses on the role technology can play in democratic reform. “Through technology, you can have a role that is way bigger than what you think you can [have],” Ghonim said. “You can actually change the world with your actions with the reach that the Internet, or technology in general, can give you.”


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