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Egypt: I Unfollowed Ghonim Because …

Egyptian cyber activist Wael Ghonim, who shot to international fame after being arrested at the beginning of the Egyptian revolution, is facing criticism from the very same Egyptians who earlier championed for his release.

In a series of tweets today, Ghonim urged the protesters to put their country's economic prosperity ahead of their revolutionary agenda.

He wrote [ar]:

المجلس بيخسر من رصيده مع الثوار لكن لازم نلاحظ إن الثوار بيخسروا من رصيدهم مع الأغلبية الصامتة اللي بدأت تتضايق من تبعات الأزمة الاقتصادية
The Council is losing its legitimacy with the revolutionaries but we need to realise that the revolutionaries are losing their credibility with the silent majority, who are starting to suffer from the economic side effects of the crisis
Egyptian blogger Wael Ghonim. Image by Flickr user yamaha_gangsta (CC BY 2.0).

Egyptian blogger Wael Ghonim. Image by Flickr user yamaha_gangsta (CC BY 2.0).

In a follow up tweet, he explained [ar]:

مفيش جدال على إن مصر كانت على أعتاب أزمة اقتصادية بغض النظر عن الثورة .. لكن مينفعش ننكر آثار الثورة الجانبية على العمالة وخاصة الفقيرة
We all agree that Egypt was at the threshold of an economic crisis, whether the revolution happened or not .. but we still cannot deny the adverse side effects the revolution has had on the work force, particularly its poor segments

He further added [ar]:

عمال اليوميات (ودول مش أقل من مليون مصري) والناس اللي شغالة في قطاعات السياحة والتنمية العقارية وغيرهم كتير مش بيسمعونا بنتكلم في قضيتهم
Workers who earn a daily wage (and those number not less than 1 million Egyptians) and people employed in tourism and real estate development, and many more, never hear us speaking about their concerns

Ghonim concludes [ar]:

الاقتصاد لازم يتحط على أولويات الثوار لأنه صمام أمان لضمان استمرار الثورة وتطهير مصر من الفساد
Economy should be the priority for the revolutionaries, because it is the safety valve which will guarantee the continuation of the revolution and the cleansing of Egypt from corruption

This series of tweets was faced with a backlash from Egyptian tweeps, and others from the region, who criticised Ghonim of not speaking up against the Army Council and its actions against protesters, despite the influence he carries, with his almost 156,000 followers on Twitter. The tweets can be found under the hashtag #UnfollowedGhonimBecause

Ghonim shone after his release from prison, when it was discovered that he was the administrator of the ‘We Are All Khaled Saeed’ page on Facebook, which sparked the Egyptian revolution on January 25, 2011. Saeed is a young Egyptian man from Alexandria who was killed after being beaten up by the police. Like Mohammed Bou Azizi of Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia, his murder angered Egyptians and made them rally around the ‘We Are All Khaled Saeed’ group, which along with others, started to plot for a Tunisia-like revolution in Egypt.

Comments on Ghonim's stance came from Egypt and beyond.

Nourhan Ramadan says [ar]:

#UnfollowedGhonimBecause هيفضل وائل محترم و انا مش بقول انه مش محترم .. بس هو اولوياته غير اولوياتنا انا مش عارفه هو مش حاسس بالوضع ولا ايه
Wael will remain respectable and I am not saying he isn't. But his priorities are different from ours. I don't know if he realises the situation we are on or not

Arab Spring adds:

#UnfollowedGhonimBecause he seems to care about ‘economy’ more human rights. He doesn't know economy prospers when u have human rights

And Karem Said explains:

i #UnfollowedGhonimBecause he has no vision for a revolutionary transformation of politics and the economy beyond promoting ICTs #egypt

Karima Momen continues:

I #UnfollowedGhonimBecause when i heard about the book. u've been the whole time imprisoned. what do u actually have to say in it!

Amira Khalil is more direct in her criticism and says:

i #UnfollowedGhonimBecause he's a sell-out. Falling for the “economic stability” manipulative tactic!! Forgetting what #Jan25 is all about.

Mohammed Al Daaysi from Bahrain tweets:

#UnfollowedGhonimBecause he became power/fame drunk – really unattractive considering he was just PART of the egyptian revolution.

Kuwaiti Mona Kareem adds:

nothing personal about #UnfollowedGhonimBecause and no one saying unpatriotic. It's just he's famous & he should speak against the army

And Israeli Elizabeth Tsurkov continues:

I #UnfollowedGhonimBecause his tweets are incredibly corny & foster myths like “revolution 2.0″. Still have respect for what the guy did.

Others did not share this point of view.

M_Ibrahim_M notes:

I have not #UnfollowedGhonimBecause هو راجل محترم و فيه حاقدين كتير
I have not unfollowed Ghonim because he is a respectable man and there are a lot of envious people

Sherif El Saadani adds [ar]:

لا يصح أن ننعت أحد بالتخاذل أوالتواطؤ لمجرد قناعته بغيرما يعتقده الاغلبية.التحضر اني أحمي حقك في رأيك المخالف لرأيي #unfollowedghonimbecause
It is not right to call someone careless or conspiring because he is convinced with something the majority are not convinced with. Civilisation is that I protect your right to have an opinion which is different from mine.

And Haisam Yehia concludes:

I find it so ironic that @Ghonim tweet of the day is: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation & 5 minutes to ruin it”. Today of all days.

Chirpinator shares a more comprehensive list of Twitter reactions here.

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