Oct 212012

Speaking at the Dublin F.ounder’s technology conference, U2 singer Bono hailed Egyptian computer engineer and activist Wael Ghonim for his role in igniting the Arab Spring uprising that led to the overthrow of leader Hosni Mubarak. Matt Cowan reports.

STORY: He’s accustomed to much larger audiences, but U2 front man Bono made a surprise appearance at the Dublin F.ounder’s technology conference. The invite-only gathering has gained a reputation for bringing together top tier entrepreneurs and investors. Before going on stage, he privately met with Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian computer engineer credited with helping to ignite the Arab Spring uprising with a message on Facebook. SOUNDBITE: Bono, U2 singer and activist saying (English) “Wael Ghonim, which I think is how you pronounce his name, is here which is incredible. And I would say, the 21st century began – it rarely begins on the first day of the first month of the first year – it began last year in Tahrir Square, where the model of power over millennia, the pyramid (with) the power at the top and the base at the bottom was inverted, in the land of the pyramids as it happens.” SOUNDBITE: Wael Ghonim, computer engineering and political activist saying (English) “Well, we’re quite humbled I guess by this and I believe he’s just trying to draw the attention that people finally have a say and the way the protests started in Egypt. The way people were acting in Tahrir Square, the way the whole media was focussing on it was really inspiring to a lot of people. I meet people from different parts of the world and they tell me ‘everyday in the morning I would wake up and check on what’s going on in Tahrir Square and trying to know what’s happening and did he quit or not’ so to a large extent I think that was one of the largest events that took place this century. Leaving the Dublin venue, Bono was asked for his opinion on the recent issue of Time Magazine which featured a picture of Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny on the cover next to the headline ‘The Celtic Comeback’. SOUNDBITE: Bono, U2 singer and activist saying (English) “I heard the Taoiseach said and I think it’s right is that he said the people who should have been on the cover are the Irish people, and that’s who should have been on the cover. If that’s true that he said that then it says a lot about the man because it’s the people who’ve taken all the pain.” Ghonim is fond of saying the power of people is stronger than the people in power, and while acknowledging that technology is only a tool he says it is a big part of this shift. Matt Cowan, Reuters.

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