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Wael Ghonim: Negotiation days with Mubarak are over

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  1. BAK

    BAK JF-Expert Member

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    Wael Ghonim: Negotiation days with Mubarak are over - CNN.com

    Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian activist being hailed by many fellow protesters as a hero, had a message Wednesday for his country's leaders: "If you are true Egyptians, if you are heroic Egyptians, it's time to step down."
    In an exclusive interview with CNN, Ghonim, who was freed by Egyptian authorities on Monday after 10 days, 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. It's time for people at the highest levels of the government "to apologize to the families" of those killed, he said.
    Human Rights Watch said Tuesday the number of people killed in the Egyptian protests has reached 302 -- 232 in Cairo, 52 in Alexandria and 18 in Suez.


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    Ghonim played a key role in organizing the protests that have convulsed Egypt for more than two weeks. He was the administrator of a Facebook page that is widely credited with calling the first protest January 25. A Google executive who lives in Dubai with his wife and two children, he had returned to Egypt for the protests.
    His disappearance January 28 quickly captured international attention.
    He showed CNN on Wednesday a power of attorney that he had notarized, granting control of all his assets to his wife. Holding it up, he said, "I'm ready to die" to bring change to Egypt.
    Ghonim cited as his greatest heroes Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India's independence movement, and Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old founder of Facebook.
    A crowd of thousands cheered Ghonim on Tuesday when he spoke at Tahrir Square, where hundreds of thousands of protesters have demanded change for the last 16 days.
    As he walked down the streets of his upscale neighborhood Wednesday, clutching a laptop, passersby recognized him and ran up to kiss him on the cheek and embrace him. A taxi driver stopped his car in traffic, got out and hugged the 30-year-old executive. Another driver handed a cell phone to Ghonim and asked him to say a few words to his daughter.
    Yet Ghonim said he is uncomfortable about being the face of the popular uprising in Egypt.
    "This is not about me," he said several times during an emotional hour-long interview in a relative's Cairo apartment.
    Ghonim added that he is proud of the protests, which he described as a "youth revolution" and an "Internet revolution." The Muslim Brotherhood, he said, played no role in organizing the initial protests, and in fact "would not participate."
    Ghonim conceded that Mubarak has "sacrificed a lot" for Egypt but said the 82-year-old leader represents a system that needs to be replaced. He demanded that Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party be dissolved immediately. He also said, though, that Mubarak should be treated with dignity.
    He said the initial goal of the protests was to call for the resignation of Egypt's unpopular interior minister and demand improved conditions for the poor. The calls for Mubarak's resignation came after Egyptian security forces responded to peaceful protests with force, he said.
    Police clashed with protesters in the early days of the protests, before being replaced by the military, which created a generally more peaceful atmosphere.
    Ghonim, who comes from an affluent Egyptian family, said the activists who organized the January 25 protests intentionally designed their movement to be anonymous and faceless, without a clear leader. He cited the movie "V for Vendetta" as a source of inspiration.
    When asked whether he was referring to a famous scene of the film's protagonist blowing up Parliament in London, he laughed and said no. He drew inspiration, he said, from a character who anonymously advocated for change.