One man’s tears provided a new impetus yesterday to protesters in Egypt seeking to keep up momentum in their campaign, now in its third week, to topple President Hosni Mubarak.
Wael Ghonim, a Google executive detained and blindfolded by state security for 12 days, broke down in a television interview on Monday after his release saying a system that arrested people for speaking out must be torn down.
“Ghonim’s tears have moved millions and turned around the views of those who supported [Mubarak] staying,” website Masrawy.com wrote two hours after Ghonim’s TV appearance. In that short span, 70,000 people had signed up to Facebook pages supporting him.
Demonstrators have been camping out in Tahrir Square for days to press their demand that Mubarak, a U.S. ally who has ruled for 30 years, quit now. Ghonim joined them yesterday for another mass protest that drew in well more than 100,000 people.
“You are the heroes. I am not a hero, you are the heroes,” he told the cheering crowd. “My condolences to the fathers and mothers who lost sons and daughters who died for their dream. These are the real heroes.”