Youthful leader freed from detention energizes Egyptian protests with arrival in square
CAIRO – A massive crowd of anti-government protesters poured into Cairo‘s Tahrir Square again Tuesday, joined for the first time by a young leader of the campaign the day after he was released from detention and wept through a televised interview where he declared: “We are not traitors.”
The tens of thousands standing should-to-shoulder, one of the biggest crowds so far, gave a resounding answer to the question of whether they still had the momentum to go on even though two weeks of streets fights and sit-ins have not achieved their singular goal of ousting entrenched President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled the country for 30 years.
Many said they were inspired by Wael Ghonim, 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. Straight from his release from 12 days of detention, Ghonim gave an emotionally charged television interview, sobbing at times over those who have been killed. He dubbed the protests “the revolution of the youth of the Internet.”
Fifi Shawqi, a 33-year-old upper-class housewife who came with her three daughters and her sister to the Tahrir protest for the first time, said Ghonim inspired her.
“I saw Wael yesterday (in the interview) and I cried. I felt like he is my son and all the youth here are my sons,” she said. “I think Wael brought many, many more.”
Others in the crowd said they too were joining for the first time.
Ghonim has emerged as a rallying point for protesters, who reject a group of traditional Egyptian opposition groups that have met with the government amid the most sweeping concessions the regime has made in its three decades in power.
The protesters are insisting that no concessions will do unless Mubarak steps down.