Revolution 2.0 by Wael Ghonim is about the Google executive in Cairo who, through his postings on Facebook, triggered what snowballed into massive nationwide protests we refer to as Arab Spring. It all started when Ghonim learnt about the killing of a young man, Khaled Said, by agents from Egypt’s dreaded State Security, an apparatus that had secured the 30-year-regime of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, through various brutal methods of repression and intimidation.
Ghonim gives a chilling account of the tactics employed by the ‘guards’ of the State Security and how he managed to dodge and circumvent the monitoring and certain exposure. Via Internet, he managed to marshal protesters, exchange information and intelligence, and keep up the spirits even as the batons came down on their heads and bodies, and the shootings started, first discreetly at night, and then brazenly and blatantly in front of the cameras of the world’s major media networks.
It is also heartening to know that apart from intense socializing, online activity can also be indulged in to generate a revolution! But it wasn’t easy. It was in fact downright frightening. As Ghonim writes: “The world around me was reduced to pitch black. I could sense the deliberate use of side streets by the driver as the car traveled through Cairo at midnight…On my right and left were two guards from State Security. They kept a tight grip on my handcuffed arms. I remained completely silent so as not to provoke them. They had forced my shirt up to cover my head so I could not see, and my belt was tied firmly over the shirt, around my head. One of them had pushed my head down to hide me from passing pedestrians…”Get out, you son of a b…,” said a loud and angry voice when we arrived. I was being pushed out of the car. My reception inside the building was harsh and mocking. I was slapped, kicked, and cursed, all accompanied by derisive laughter...The laughter was part of their strategy to instill fear prior to interrogation. The most difficult thing about the slaps and kicks was their element of surprise. I had no means of anticipating any strike because I was blindfolded.”
3,50,000 people would respond to the postings on that Facebook page by this brave man, leading to an uprising, that for ever changed the Arab world, as corrupt and brutal regimes fell one after another. Read and tremble.
By Wael Ghonim