HUFFINGTON POST

Wael Ghonim, Freed Activist, Energizes Egyptian Protests

CAIRO -- A young leader of Egypt's anti-government protesters, newly released from detention, joined a massive crowd in Cairo's Tahrir Square for the first time Tuesday and was greeted with cheers, whistling and thunderous applause when he declared: "We will not abandon our demand and that is the departure of the regime."

Many in the crowd 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 to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Straight from his release from 12 days of detention, Ghonim gave an emotionally charged television interview Monday night where he sobbed over those who have been killed in two weeks of clashes.

He arrived in the square when it was packed shoulder-to-shoulder, a crowd comparable in size to the biggest demonstration so far that drew a quarter-million people. He spoke softly and briefly to the huge crowd from a stage and began by offering his condolences to the families of those killed.

"I'm not a hero but those who were martyred are the heroes," he said, breaking into a chant of "Mubarak leave, leave." When he finished, the crowd erupted in cheering, whistling and deafening applause.

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.

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