Link to Award Ceremony
The best road to progress is freedom's road. These are the words of President Kennedy and this is the road that Egyptians are walking on for the first time in decades.
Today, I’m very happy to be here at the JFK Library as one of millions of Egyptians who had courage to fight in order to have the chance to walk along freedom’s road.
It is humbling for me, but also fills me with pride to know that the courage of my fellow Egyptians is being recognized globally.
We were living under a regime that systematically oppressed its citizens to ensure its existence. A regime that heavily relied on security to ensure stability rather than democracy to ensure progress. A regime that made over 40% of its citizens live under the global poverty line, and more than 35% are still illiterate in the 21st century. A regime that helped 0.5% of the country's citizens control over 80% of its wealth. A regime where corruption, torture, and bribery among other things were both systematic and sanctioned.
Egyptians on the 25th of January started a journey to find the real Egypt. The one they were told was gone. The one they only read about in history books. Brave, and mainly young, Egyptians went to the street on the 25th of January in the largest campaign for their freedom and dignity. Few days later millions of people joined them, all agreeing to one thing: "The people want to bring down the regime". Egyptians found their country after 18 days of searching. As I saw this, I thought, welcome back Egypt.
Egyptians showed their courage and bravery, over 800 sacrificed their lives for others to continue their struggle towards real democracy and freedom. More than 6000 Egyptians were injured, a lot of them lost their eye sight and I met a couple of them who told me that they never regret it as it was for a better Egypt.
The younger generation in the Arab world sent a strong message to every dictator: You are no longer going to enjoy your absolute power, your plans to oppress your people will eventually come to an end, and you can't keep a dictatorship alive in the highly connected 21st century.
They also sent a strong wake up call to other nations in the International community who had been favoring the short-term interests of their governments and corporations over the long-term values of their very own people.
It is important to realize that the struggle for freedom in Egypt isn't over yet, for what was built over tons of years cannot vanish in a few weeks or months. As the Egyptian Scholar, Sheikh Muhamed Metwally ElSharawy said long time ago: "The true revolutionary is the one who fights to end a corrupted regime, then calms down to start building glory".
We were living in a nightmare, and as we are getting out of it, it is important to be optimistic and start dreaming. Dreaming of a better Egypt.
I end my remarks by what Winston Churchill once said: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Remarks delivered by Wael Ghonim on accepting the 2011 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, May 23, 2010. (As Prepared for Delivery)