Egypt: A Star Shines on Tahrir Square

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Protests 2011.

Ongoing protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo by Nour El Refai

Ongoing protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo by Nour El Refai © Copyright Demotix (8/2/2011)

Tahrir Square, the epicentre of massive protests in downtown Cairo calling for an end to the Mubarak regime, saw the largest number of protesters today since the beginning of pro-democracy demonstrations 15 days ago.

Among the protesters was Wael Ghonim, a blogger and cyber activist, who was arrested on January 27, and released last night.

Ghomin, who was named as the demonstrators’ spokesman to pressure the government to release him, addressed the crowds at the square earlier today:

Ghomin vowed to avenge the martyrs, an estimated 300 people who were killed in the protests. He urged protesters not to forget them, adding that those who allow their blood to go in vain are traitors.

“I have been saying for a long time, that this country is ours. Everyone has a right here. You have a right. This is the time for us to reclaim our rights,” he told the cheering crowds.

“Your demands are my demands. And essential to them is that the president steps down,” he added as the gathering chanted “Leave! Leave!”

Ghonim is the formerly anonymous administrator of the We Are All Khaled Said group, which sparked the calls for nation-wide protests to call for change. The group is named after Khaled Said, a young man from Alexandria murdered at the hands of police. His death, last June, caused widespread demonstrations and rage against police torture and the ‘use of Emergency Law to terrorise citizens.’

After his release, Ghomin, gave a candid interview to Egyptian channel Dream TV. Blogger Mohamed El Gohary translates Ghonim's interview here. Ghonim's tears as he mourned the victims killed by Mubarak's regime during the protests, is believed to have rallied even more people towards the cause.

Writing at Egyptian Chronicles, Zeinobia says the highlight of today's protests at Tahrir, was when Ghonim met Khaled Said's mother.

Like many others, Zeinobia says that Khaled Said is Egypt's Mohamed Bou Azizi, the young man from Tunisia's Sidi Bouzid, whose self-imolation sparked the Tunisian uprising, which ended with the escape of strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali last month.

Wael Ghonim spoke today to millions of Egyptians in the square.
Khaled Said’s movement has contributed a lot to this revolution, you can consider Said as our official Mohamed Bou Azizi. Khaled Said was the Alexandrian who made the middle class go and protest his murder silently across the country for one hour standing at the corniche whether the Nile corniche and the sea corniche. History will record the role of Khaled Said movement and group in this revolution, history will record it.

A new Facebook group entitled I Authorise Wael Ghonim to Speak on Behalf of Egyptian Revolutionaries is also getting a lot of support, with more than 183,000 fans so far. Posts on the page include updates on the protests, as well as condolence messages to those who have lost their lives so far.

On Twitter, tribute is pouring from around the world. Ghonim tweets:

Dear Egyptians, Failure is not an option #Jan25

- a tweet which is now making the rounds online.

@ghonim: Dear Egyptians, Failure is not an option #Jan25

@habibh: Wael @Ghonim with Khaled Said's mother! We are all Khaled Said!

@techsoc: .@ghonim didn't just cry over the killed He talked about the rule of law, the idea that state should be subservient to the people, [+]

@JafraJenin: @ZazaFL @Ghonim Thanks so much for making us proud! You guys are amazing. I'm crying like a little girl

@edouardhervouet: I just sincerely want to tell @Ghonim : thanks. I'm not Egyptian, I'm just a friend of democracy. Thanks, thanks, thanks !

@shawkyMD: Wael @Ghonim @#Tahrir square #jan25 #Egypt

@lindsayiversen: I am completely captivated by what's happening in #Egypt right now. This is real history, in real time.

@FeetCandy: RT @UKProgressive Wael Ghonim has rekindled the fire. How can anyone not be moved by his passion and sincerity.

@jihadm: “@Ghonim: A government that is scared from #Facebook and #Twitter should govern a city in Farmville but not a country like #Egypt #Jan25″

@RohanMaitzen: If only @ghonim could inspire an epidemic of sincerity and principles in politics worldwide. It might restore everyone's faith in democracy.

@suzeeinthecity: it took Wael @Ghonim to convince certain friends of mine that #tahrir isn't controlled by the Muslim Bros but by average egyptians like them

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Protests 2011.

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