I watch the TED talks videos from time to time and this week I heard Wael Ghomin speak about the power of social media. In Part One I’ll be taking a look at how his Facebook page sparked a revolution.
Here a few extracts from the video transcipt:-
Wael Ghonim is the Google executive who helped jumpstart Egypt’s democratic revolution … with a Facebook page memorializing a victim of the regime’s violence. Speaking at TEDxCairo, he tells the inside story of the past two months, when everyday Egyptians showed that “the power of the people is stronger than the people in power.”
Wael says that we can only liberate society if we first of all free the internet.
The Facebook page is called “We are all Khaled Said” and can be found here. The page was created and an anonymous administrator was basically inviting people to join the page, and there was no plan. “What are we going to do?” “I don’t know.” In a few days, tens of thousands of people there — angry Egyptians who were asking the ministry of interior affairs, “Enough. Get those who killed this guy. To just bring them to justice.” But of course, they don’t listen. It was an amazing story — how everyone started feeling the ownership.
Waek himself was snatched and placed into custody for 11 days for his part in the social media inspired revolt…
We’re going to win because we are willing to stand up for our dreams.” And that’s actually what happened. We won. And that’s not because of anything, but because we believed in our dream. The winning here is not the whole details of what’s going to happen in the political scene. The winning is the winning of the dignity of every single Egyptian.
Five years later, Egypt still claims to be a democracy, but following the 2013 coup against the elected Muslim Brotherhood government, a new military man is ruling with a firmer rod of iron than ever Mr Mubarak did.
In waves of arrests, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has overseen the rounding up of tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members and liberal activists, from the streets and their homes.
“Egypt is mired in a human rights crisis of huge proportions,” Amnesty International said in a statement to mark the anniversary.
“The hopes that the ‘25 January Revolution’ would herald a new era of reforms and respect for human rights have been truly shattered.
“The events of 2011 were a military coup against Mubarak,” he said. “The revolution was great and worthwhile, but eventually what took it in this direction was the generals.”
There have been further round-ups of activists in the last week, to send a message that no commemorative presence in Tahrir Square on tomorrow’s anniversary will be tolerated, let alone another uprising.
Mr Abdel Azim said none should be expected. “There is nothing called a opposition in Egypt now,” he said. “All other political forces are either desperate, or dispersed.”
It would be easy to characterise the Egyptian revolution, the fifth anniversary of which came round on Monday, as simply a story of high hopes followed by deep disappointment. Five years ago Tahrir Square was alive with demonstrators, now it is just a dismal gated roundabout with a flag post in the middle, and the men and women who were out on the streets in those joyful times are staying home. Some support President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and for most of those who do not, the price of open protest has become too high. It brings prison or worse.
Yet the actions of the regime suggest that the idea that the revolution has been defeated is wrong. President Sisi’s government rules by and through fear. It rules by fear because it mistreats and brutalises even its mildest critics. It rules through fear because it continues to derive legitimacy from the genuine anxieties felt by many Egyptians when the government ofMohamed Morsi seemed to be lurching toward its own Islamist version of authoritarian rule.
In Part 2 I’ll look at how Wael’s view that there are 5 things we need to do to make social media a force for social change.