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Wael Ghonim

If the uprising in Egypt has a webmaster, he is Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim, said David Kirkpatrick in The New York Times. Before he was detained on Jan. 27 by the Egyptian authorities, Ghonim, 30, had helped build and administer a Facebook page dedicated to Khaled Said, whose fatal beating last June, allegedly at the hands of police, sparked the demonstrations that have shaken the Egyptian government to its core. The Facebook page has helped “connect human-rights organizers with average Egyptians” and served as the main forum for organizing the demonstrations.

Now Ghonim has given the protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square a second wind, said Ian Black in the London Guardian. Released this week from custody, Ghonim gave an interview on Egyptian television in which he denied being a hero and wept when shown pictures of some who had died in the uprising. The interview quickly became “a rallying point to keep the protests alive” and helped swell the crowds in Tahrir Square just as they seemed to be dwindling. Many there this week want Ghonim to be “appointed spokesman for the country’s democracy movement.” And, perhaps, for the power of social networking.

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