Wael Ghonim, Egyptian revolutionary and Google exec, to receive JFK Profile in Courage Award
Wael Ghonim, the Google executive whose Facebook page helped mobilize protests in Egypt that overthrew Hosni Mubarak's more than 30-year reign, is among the recipients of the 2011 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
Ghonim will be given the award along with Elizabeth Redenbaugh, a North Carolina school board member who battled redistricting plans that could have led to racial segregation, according to the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
The foundation announced the recipients Tuesday and said Ghonim and Redenbaugh will be officially given the awards at Boston's John F. Kennedy Library on May 23. No word yet on whether or not Ghonim will leave Egypt to attend the event.
Ghonim is being given the honor along with "the people of Egypt," the foundation said.
Caroline Kennedy, one of President Kennedy's daughters and the president of the foundation, said in a statement that Ghonim and the Egyptian people have energized a new generation of activists seeking freedom and democracy.
"From a small county school district in North Carolina to Tahrir Square in Cairo, this year's Profile in Courage honorees show us the importance of individual acts of conscience," Kennedy said. "Elizabeth Redenbaugh boldly challenged the citizens of her community to preserve quality public education for all of New Hanover County’s children regardless of race. By coming together in pursuit of democratic freedom, Wael Ghonim and his fellow Egyptians have empowered a new generation of citizen activists all over the world.
"Win or lose, Wael Ghonim and Elizabeth Redenbaugh stood up when it counted."
During the 18-days of Egyptian protests, Ghonim was captured by the now-toppled Egyptian government and held for a 12 days from Jan. 27 to Feb. 7, after taking part in protests that began on Jan. 25.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Google executive Wael Ghonim addresses a crowd inside Tahrir Square in Cairo on Feb. 8. Ghonim, who was freed on Monday after two weeks, in which he said state security kept him blindfolded. Activists say that Ghonim was behind a Facebook group that helped to inspire the protests. Credit: Dylan Martinez / Reuters