Wael Ghonim: Egyptian Protesters' Unlikely Leader Says He's 'Ready To Die'
(1:30 p.m. ET: We've updated this post several times, most recently to add the news that Wael Ghonim told CNN today that he's "ready to die" to bring change to Egypt and to add a video clip from that conversation. Read through to see how the story has developed.)
Following up on her reporting from yesterday about the galvanizing effect that Wael Ghonim has had on the anti-government protesters in Egypt, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro has more today on the 30-year-old Google executive who she says is "in many ways both an unlikely leader and the perfect one."
"Educated and affluent, he was living outside of Egypt in the United Arab Emirates and came back when the protests began last month," Lourdes reported on Morning Edition. "He's married to an American, whom he met online. He was arrested at the beginning of the protests and held for 12 days. Yesterday, he appeared in [Cairo's Tahrir Square] for the first time since then to chants and cheers.
"In the few days it's been up, a Facebook page nominating him the leader of the pro-democracy forces has garnered at least 200,000 supporters."
And protesters in the square, Lourdes adds, say Ghonim — especially after his emotional interview on Egyptian TV after his release from jail — has made a huge difference.
Still, "it's not clear [Ghonim] wants the mantle" of leadership, Lourdes says.
Here's her Morning Edition report:
Earlier today, this message was posted on Ghonim's Twitter page:
"This is not the time to 'negotiate', this is the time to 'accept' and 'enforce' the demands of the Egyptian Youth movement."
Update at 1:30 p.m. ET. Now, CNN has posted a short video clip of its interview with Ghonim:
Update at 11:03 a.m. ET.CNN has now posted some quotes from its interview with Ghonim. It writes that:
"Ghonim is 'ready to die' to bring change to Egypt, he said Wednesday.
"In an exclusive interview with CNN, Ghonim also said it is 'no longer the time to negotiate' with the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
" 'There's a lot of blood now' that has been spilled, he said."
Update at 10:20 a.m. ET. Now there's word on Ghonim's Twitter page that he's given an interview to CNN. We'll pass along word on what he says when the cable news network shares it.
More News From Egypt
— "At dawn on Wednesday, hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators remained camped out at the Parliament building, several hundred yards from Tahrir Square, where they had marched for the first time on Tuesday. There were reports of thousands demonstrating in several other cities around the country while protesters flowed back into Tahrir Square itself on the 16th day of the uprising after Tuesday's huge display of dissent." ( The New York Times)
— "Egypt's protesters and opposition groups were infuriated Wednesday by a warning from Vice President Omar Suleiman that if their movement doesn't enter negotiations, a 'coup'' could take place causing greater chaos, as a mass demonstration in a central Cairo square entered its 16th day." (The Associated Press)
— "The U.S. has called on the Egyptian government to lift its 30-year-old state of emergency immediately. Earlier, the White House described as 'particularly unhelpful' comments by Egyptian Vice-President Omar Suleiman that the country was not ready for democracy. Mr Suleiman has warned of a coup if constitutional reforms fail." ( BBC News)
— "The Egyptian cabinet building in Cairo has been evacuated and officials relocated after pro-democracy protesters gathered outside, sources tell Al- Jazeera. Pro-democracy demonstrations are gaining momentum in the Egyptian capital, with some protesters moving from Tahrir Square to camp out in the area outside the parliament buildings." ( Al-Jazeera)
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