CNN interview with Ghonim: ‘No longer time to negotiate’

As we wait for news from Hosni Mubarak, here’s the interview given by Wael Ghonim, the on-leave Google executive and Egyptian activist, on CNN’s Parker-Spitzer program. First, the CNN report:

Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian activist 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.”

Ghonim, who was freed Monday after being held by Egyptian authorities for 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. … Human Rights Watch said Tuesday 302 people had been killed in the Egyptian protests — 232 in Cairo, 52 in Alexandria and 18 in Suez. “A lot of times, the policeman would stand on the bridge and shoot people down,” Ghonim said. “This is a crime. The president need to step down because this is a crime.”

Ghonim said the “Facebook revolution” was planned:

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. “The plan was to get everyone onto the street,” he said. “Number one was that we are going to start from poor areas.”

Very smart. At one point, he publicly challenged Omar Suleiman, the Mubarak-installed VP: “Kidnap me, kidnap all my colleagues! Put us in jail! Kill us! Do whatever you want to do. We are getting back our country. You guys have been ruining this country for 30 years. Enough! Enough! Enough!”

Here’s the video, courtesy of CNN. It’s a stunning interview:

Meanwhile, there are reports that the military is moving against the protesters. This doesn’t mean they are pro-Mubarak — just that they may be asserting their own control.

The Egyptian military is complicated (our analysis is here). The lower ranks are strongly populist; the upper ranks are among the greatest beneficiaries of the current organization of the country (though not the greatest friends of the rulers). Did you know the military owns shopping malls?

It will be interesting to see what Ghonim and ElBaradei do if the military moves into a post-Mubarak vacuum. More as it develops.


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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