Wael Ghonim’s Interview With Mona Shazly On February 7th

For their second assignment, one group examined Wael Ghonim’s interview with Mona El-Shazly on February 7th as another extremely influential interview during the revolution.  The first fifteen minutes of the interview were translated.  You can watch this first part at: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheEgyptianHope#p/c/8B45100B1F6FD5DD/0/upK6w8Y5Mdc

While some translations of this interview have already been undertaken and some versions exist with subtitles, this group takes an in depth look at the context of Ghonim’s words and the semiotics behind the interview.  Much like the Nawara Negm interview, some of Ghonim’s words are left in the original language of Arabic by the choice of the translators.  As one of the youths behind the protest movement, Ghonim himself blends English and Arabic at some points in the interview, switches that are preserved in the Arabic transcript.  Enjoy!

Arabic transcription:

النص العربي:

منى الشاذلي: وائل سعيد عباس غنيم، حفظت الاسم الرباعي من كتر ما كنا بنسأل عليه نحاول إنه نعرف بس لو هو عايش ولا مختفي، عرفت إن أهله تعبوا جدا في التدوير في المستشفيات و بيسألوا كل الناس. فجأة، النهاردة، خرج وائل غنيم من أمن الدولة بعد احتجازه في ظروف غامضة جدا من يوم الجمعة ثمانية و عشرين لحد دلوقتي.

حمدالله على سلامتك يا وائل.

وائل غنيم: الله يسلمك.  أول حاجة أنا عايز أقول لكل الناس الأمهات والأبهات اللي ولادهم ماتوا:  البقاء لله، وربنا يتقبل ولادكم من الشهداء سواء كانوا مواطنين سواء كانوا ضباط سواء كانوا عساكر، أي حدّ مات دا شهيد. مش عايز اقول أعتذر لأن إحنا عُمر، عُمر الناس اللي فكرت في المظاهرة دي ما كانت بتفكّر إنها تكسر أي حاجة مش نقتل بني آدم.  إحنا كلنا شباب بنحب مصر وعملنا كدا عشان إحنا بنحبّ مصر، وكان مستحيل.. إحنا كان أول حاجة كتبناها: “نحن اصحاب حقّ”. وعُمر الحق ما حييجي بإنك تكسر ممتلكات خاصة شخصية أو خاصة أو عامة، الحقّ حييجي بإن إحنا نطالب بيه. كان كل أملنا إن كل الناس تنزل تقول إحنا عايزين حقّنا وحناخدُه. بس. فالعزاء دا عزاء واجب لأن الناس دي هي اللي ضحّت بدمّها.  أنا عايز اقول لكو. حانتكلم يعني، بس، إحنا عندنا في مصر بنحب نعمل أبطال، أنا مش بطل.  أنا كنت نايم 12 يوم. الأبطال هم اللي كانوا في الشارع، الأبطال همّ اللي نزلوا المظاهرات الأبطال هم اللي ضحوا بحياتهم، الابطال هم اللي اتضربوا، الابطال همّ اللي اعتقلوا واتعرّضوا لمخاطر. أنا ماكنتش بطل، للاسف، اللي حصل لي خلاني أندم إن أنا ماكنتش مع الناس.  إن أنا نازل من ال من الإمارات وكان ال نازل أحضر المظاهرة، ضحكت حتى على ناس عندنا في الشغل وقلت لهم إنا عندي حاجة عاجلة personal حاجة لوالدي ولازم أنزل مصر ومحتاج أجازة 6 أيام وكان عندي رصيد اجازات كبير، قالوا لي طَب خلاص أوكي، خير؟ لا معلش دي حاجة personal ونزلت، سافرت مصر. نزلت مخصوص علشان المظاهرة، نزلت عشان كان لازم أكون مع الناس كلها.

أنا بس عايز قبل ما نتكلم مع بعض، عايز اصلّح كام معلومة حضرتك قلتيها في المقدمة.

منى:  اتفضل يا وائل

وائل: أولا نجيب دا، دا زميلي في الإمارات. ثانياً هو مش سوري

منى: انا آسفة. لكنته الشامي خلتني أفتكر إنه سوري.

وائل: هو أردني.

منى: أردني.

وائل: عارفة ليه أنا باوضّح الموضوع دا؟ عشان إحنا مش خَوَنة يا منى، إحنا مش خونة، إحنا بنحبّ مصر.

منى: وائل، يعني،

وائل: إحنا مش شغالين مع أجندات أي حدّ يا منى، إحنا فينا شباب أغنيا جداً، عايشين في أحلى بيوت، راكبين احسن عربيات، أنا مش محتاج اي حاجة من اي حدّ، وماكنتش عايز أي حاجة من أي حدّ. كل الحاجات اللي كانت بتتعمل كانت بتعرض حياة كل واحد فينا للخطر. خطر ما كنّاش نعرف أوله من آخره. إحنا مانعرفش. إحنا بنعمل وخلاص، قلنا حنعمل حنحارب حناخد حقوقنا لأ، دي بلدنا فكل واحد فينا اتعرض لخطر ماكانش بيعمل كدا عشان هوا شخصي. الناس اللي نزلت والناس اللي خططت دي مش عايزة أي حاجة. أنا ولا عايز اي حاجة. إنتِ عارفة أنا أكتر حاجة كانت بتعذبني وانا في المعتقل إيه؟ الناس حتعرف إن أنا الـ admin أنا كان نفسي ماحدّش يعرف إن أنا الـ admin لأن أنا مش البطل. أنا كنت باكتب بالـ keyboard يا منى على النت، أنا ماكنتش باعرّض حياتي للخطر. أنا مش عايز اقول اسماء ناس دلوقت عشان انا لسه خارج وماعرفش هم فين ولاّ ممكن أعرض حياتهم لخطر، بس فيه ناس كتير منهم اللي انت قابلتيه، مصطفي النجار دا.. الناس كانت بتعرض حياتها للخطر بجد وأنا قاعد باكتب على الـ key board . فارجوكم يا جماعة، مافيش ابطال. الابطال همّ الناس اللي في الشارع. الابطال هم كل واحد فينا. مافيش واحد، مافيش النهاردا واحد راكب الحصان هو اللي بيضرب السرج ويحرك الناس. اوعى حدّ يضحك عليكو ويقول لكو كدا. دي ثورة شباب الإنترنت، دي ثورة شباب الإنترنت اللي بقت بعد كدا ثورة شباب مصر اللي بعد كدا بقت ثورة كل مصر. ومافيش بطل فيها ومافيش واحد هو اللي المفروض ياخُد الـ scene كلنا كنا أبطال. بس. دي أول حاجة.

منى: وائل أولا انا عارفة إنك إنتَ لسه جاي، عايزة اقول لك إن وقت ما تكون عايز تاخد نفسك خُد نفسك، وقت ما تكون عايز تفكر فكر، يعني ما يبقاش فيه اي ضغط عليك

وائل: أنا مش نايم تقريباً بقى لي 48 ساعة بس بس دا حاجة شخصية، أنا ماكنتش عارف انام

منى: انتَ ليه أول حاجة قلتها دلوقت “إحنا مش خونة” يعني، ليه؟ همّ كانوا بيتهموكوا بكدا؟

وائل: بُصي حضرتك، إحنا عشان مابقيناش نسمع بعض الف..  أنا أنا عايز الاول أقول على حاجة، ودا، أنا عارف إن دا دلوقت، موسم.. ممكن أسميه موسم التخوين. دا ممكن يخوّنِك ودا ممكن يخوّنك. فاكرة لما انتِ اتكلمتِ على الـ، لما أنا حتى كلمتك قبليها وقلت لك يا منى قولي الحقيقة، قلتِ لي: المتظاهرين بيضغطوا علينا والأمن بيضغط علينا والواحد مش عارف يعمل إيه. دا موسم التخوين، بس أنا عايز أقول حاجة. أنا لو قلت لكو دلوقتِ، لو قلت لكل واحد فيكو دلوقتِ إن أنا تعذبت واتضربت واتكهربت وقلعت هدومي وماوريتكمش ولا خدش كنتو كلكو حتصدقوا. صح؟ حتصدقوا لأن أنا عندي مصداقية عند الناس. بس الحقيقة دا ماحصلّيش. أنا ماحصلّيش اي حاجة من ساعة.. أنا كنت مذهول! من ساعة ما ..

منى: إنتَ نزلت المظاهرات

وائل: أنا نزلت مظاهرة يوم 25

منى: إحنا اتكلمنا الساعة واحدة ولا الساعة اتنين صباحا؟

وائل: أنا اتخطفت، أنا اتعاملت جوه أمن الدولة بشكل غريب جدا، بشكل محترم ، بكل احترام، واتكلمت مع ناس مثقفة جدا، جوة أمن الدولة. كانت أول قاعدة معاهم، هم مُقتنعين 100% إن إحنا ورانا ناس أجانب. إن إحنا يا إما بيلعب بعقولنا حدّ يا إما متمولين من حدّ ا ا ا بيوجّهنا بيقول لنا: انزل اعمل كدا، حُطّ الـ post دا على الـ

عارفة انا ماأذانيش اي حاجة، أنا بابا وماما خدوا حسنات كتير من عساكر يعني مش من ضباط، بس دا ما آذانيش. أنا آذاني لما فيه واحد ضابط في أول البتاع كان بيشك إن أنا خاين، الضابط دا غير رايه بعد كدا. بس إحنا مش خونة، إحنا بنحب مصر. أنا لو كنت خاين، على فكرة أنا كنت حاقعد في الفيلا بتاعتي في البيسين في الإمارات وأنبسط وأعيش حياتي. أنا باقبض وكل شوية المرتب بتاعي عمال يزيد وعايش حياتي. وإيه المشكلة، ما البلد، حاقول لك زي ما الناس بتقول: “تولع البلد، تولع إيه المشكلة، هي دي بلدنا ؟ دي البلد دي بلدهم”. دا لو أنا كنت خاين. إحنا مش خونة. أنا الحمد لله من الحاجات اللي أنا فخور بيها إن أنا مروح مفهّم الناس دي وعن اقتناع وأنا فاهم كويس أنا باقول إيه إن همّ عارفين إن إحنا مش خونة ، وإن ماحرّكتناش أجندة إلا أجندة حبنا لبلدنا. هم الأول شاكين، ماكانوش مصدّقين يعني إيه شوية شباب على الـ أنا كنت باسمّيهم على الصفحة زمان “عيال الـ facebook همّ كانوا بيسمّونا زمان، أيام وقفات خالد سعيد أول ما طلعنا خالص. شوية العيال اللي على الـ facebook بيعملوا شوية دوشة، مش مصدّقين إن الشباب دول نزلوا عشرات الآلاف يوم ال 25. همّ ما كانوش مصدقين. إحنا كنا مصدقين على فكرة. إحنا كالناس اللي اشتغلت، وانا على فكرة تاني، أنا أنا أنا مجرد، أنا كنت البوق، كنت زمّارة هي اللي بتزمر وبتقول للناس تنزل فيه ناس اشتغلت، اشتغلت كتير والناس دي هي اللي لازم تطلع وتتكلم وتحكي لك هي إزاي فكرت وإزاي قررت إنها تعمل مظاهرة وإزاي حنعرف ندافع عن الناس وإزاي حنجبر الناس كلها إن المظاهرة تبقى سلمية وإزاي الناس تبقى تمشي في الشارع تنضف الشارع، كل الكلام دا اتفكر فيه، بس اللي أنا كنت عايز أقوله إنه..

منى: وائل، خًد أنفاسك

وائل: معلش انا

منى: إحنا هنا مش جهة تحقيق، إنتَ يا وائل مش مضطر تحلف أو تكرر إن انتَ بتحب البلد دي او إن انتَ مش خاين.

وائل: للاسف للاسف،

منى: وائل .. اسمعني بس

وائل: لا ثانية واحدة ثانية واحدة لأ لأ معلش حاقول لك حاجة

منى: اتفضل

وائل: إحنا دلوقت بقينا في زمن يا منى اللي نواياه طيبة بيتخوّن، عارفة ليه؟ لأن الناس فاكرة إن الوحش هو الأساس، بس دا مش حقيقي. انا شفت يوم 25 شخصيا، أنا كنت فخور إن أنا مصري يوم 25. لما يبقى فيه آلاف البنات ومافيش حالة تحرش واحدة، لما يبقى فيه واحد بسيط جدا قاعد يلمّ الزبالة من غير ما حدّ يقول له. لما يبقى فيه إشارة مرور وماحدّش يلمسها ولا يكسرها. لما واحد يبقى وماسك شومة والناس تزعق له وتقول له: شيل الشومة دي من إيدك. أنا يا منى، أنا وقعت على رجلي طوبة عشان كان فيه واحد بيحاول يرميها، بس عارفة الناس ابتدت تعمل، الناس اللي قالوا عليهم مُخرّبين، كان فيه فعلا ناس جهلة، عارفة إمتى؟ بعد ما اتضرب عليهم رصاص مطاطي، بعد ما تمّ اللي اتعمل… أنا عايز اقول بس تاني: معلش إحنا بقينا في زمن، أنا طول الوقت في الصفحة الناس تقول إيه؟ هو دا قاعد بيعمل كدة ليه على الصفحة؟ إنتو عارفين إن كان حياتي الشخصية متدمرة، أنا كانت مراتي عايزة تتطلق مني عشان أنا مش، مابقيتش أقعد أتكلم معاها. وبعدين واحد قاعد حاطط رجل على رجل يقول دا إنسان خاين، دا أكيد بيقبض. هو دا بيعمل إيه؟ ا ا ا مش عارف إيه. كان فيه ناس كتير بتساعد في الصفحة برضه. الناس دي بتتخون. اللي أنا عايز أقوله: إننا بنحب بلدنا وأنا بارفض إن أي يزايد علينا. زي ما إحنا برضُه بنرفض إن أي حد يزايد على حدّ.

منى: وائل، حاجة إنتَ ممكن تكون إنتَ ناسيها شخصياً، وربنا عرفوه بالعقل، يعني مش بس الأجهزة الأمنية هي اللي عارفة كل حاجة، الشاب اللي كلمني في آخر السنة اللي فاتت 2010 عشان يقول لي إحنا بنعمل حاجة على الإنترنت على الـ facebook حملة عشان مصر تبقى نضيفة وعايزين نعمل خريطة بإيه المناطق اللي فيها زبالة، فاكر يا وائل؟ الخريطة اللي فيها المناطق الوحشة عشان المسؤولين يحسّوا على دمّهم وينضفوها. أنا قلت لك يا وائل أنا معاكو والبرنامج حيدعمكم، بس تعمل حاجة تانية، في الخريطة تحطّ الاماكن النضيفة عشان يبقى فيه نوع من الحافز. اللي بيفكر بالطريقة دي في بلده وحاجات كتيرة جدا، مستحيل مستحيل يكون عايز يؤذيها.

وائل: أنا عايز أقول أنا ماكنتش مُتفائل قدّ يوم 25 وأنا النهاردا مش قادر اصدق نفسي لما خرجت مش قادر اصدق نفسي من التفاؤل واللي الناس عملته النهاردا، النهاردا خلاص الناس أثبتت إنها، أنا كنت باقول حتى للضباط في التحقيقات: حدّ بس، أنا عايز حدّ بس يجادل معايا، وقلتها النهاردا للدكتور ، مش انتِ قلتِ إن أنا كنت مع الدكتور حسام؟ أ أ أ ، أولاً، كتّر خير كل واحد حاول يطلّعني، أنا مش ناكر الجميل، أنا إنسان، باحترم اي حدّ حاول يساعدني، بس في نفس الوقت أنا … (about to cry) في نفس الوقت، أنا حرام، حرام إن يبقى أبويا بيشوف بعين واحدة وممكن يخسر العين التانية ويقعد 12 يوم مايعرفش ابنه فين (crying). ليه؟ ليه؟ عايز تُقبُض عليّ؟ ما فيه قانون، اقبض عليّ، ادّيني تُهمة، حقق معايا، حقك، طب اتصل بأهلي قول له لو سمحت يا جماعة أهلك كذا … بس اللي عايز أقوله في الآخر، أنا اللي عايز اقوله في الآخر at least الناس اللي حققت معايا أنا لمست فيهم إن هم بيحاولوا يجيبوا، بيحاولوا يحققوا لمصلحة مصر، دا اللي حقق معايا، وانا مش حاقدر أحكم على النوايا. أنا كنت متغمّي، قاعد مِتغمّي 12 يوم مش سامع أي حاجة، ماعرفش أي حاجة. كنت باقعد، لسه كنت باقول لحمزة نمرة، كنت باقعد من يأسي، كنت باقعد أغني “احلم معايا” ماعرفش إيه اللي بيحصل أصلاً في الشارع، ماعرفش لو الناس نزلت المظاهرات، عمّال افكر أقول، طب يا ترى همّ تراجعوا؟ طب يا ترى؟ هو أنا اتنسيت؟ طب حدّ حيفكر فيّ؟ طب هل حدّ بيقول دلوقتِ يطلعوا وائل غنيم ولا، طب أنا مش عارف، طبعاً مافيش اي حدّ يقولك اي حاجة! أنا ماعرفش خبر واحد، ماعرفش خبر! ماعرفش إيه اللي بيحصل، طبعاً هم عندهم إجراءات أمنية، ماعرفش، دي مش قضيتي، أنا كان كل قضيتي اللي كانت حازة في نفسيتي إن مراتي تبقى عايشة في الإمارات ماتعرفش أنا فين، إن أمي تبقى عايشة في مصر ما تعرفش أنا فين، إن أبويا اللي تعبان في عينه يبقى عايش في السعودية مايعرفش أنا فين، وهمّ عارفين انا فين. وكان ابسط حاجة، دي لا كان حيحصل فيها ضرر أمني ولا كان حيحصل فيها أي حاجة. إنتَ حتى لو شاكك فيّن مُعتبرني ، طلع كل الأدلة اللي عند، أنا الحمد لله قلت على الحقيقة كلها. وماعرفش هي كانت عندهم ولاّ لأ بس قلت على الحقيقة كلها، عشان أنا، أنا فخور باللي أنا عملته وكنت مستعد أدفع تمنه. المهم دلوقتِ اللي أنا عايز أقوله إنه: دا مش وقت تصفية حسابات، فيه ناس كتير قوي أنا أحب أصفي حساباتي معاهم، حتى كشخص، نفسي آخد حقي من ناس كتير قوي، بس دا مش وقت تصفية حسابات، دا مش وقت تقسيم التورتة، ماشي؟ فيه سياسيين كتير قوي حيفهموا الكلام اللي أنا باقوله دا. دا مش وقت تقسيم التورتة. الناس اللي قاعدة بتقسّم في التورتة، دا مش وقت تقسيم تورتة. وتالت حاجة، دا مش وقت فرض ايديولوجيات. الكلام دا أنا باقوله كشخص. أنا دلوقتِ لا، أنا لسه ماكلمتش الناس في الصفحة. خدي بالك، أنا على فكرة، أنا مش فارس. ولا.. سر من اسباب نجاح الصفحة إن إحنا كان قبل أي قرار بيتاخد كنا بنعمل survey وكل الناس تقول رأيها ورأي الأغلبية هو اللي بيمشي. أنا باتكلم دلوقتِ كوائل اللي لسه طالع وكان متغمي عينه ومش شايف اي حاجة خالص، مايعرفش أي حاجة خالص. أنا لسه طالع الساعة 7 ولا الساعة 8 النهاردا. طلعت قعدت يا جماعة مع وزير الداخلية عشان أقول، مش عايز اقول لكو أنا فخور بيكو قدّ إيه. فخور بكل واحد نزل المظاهرة قد إيه. لأن وزير الداخلية قاعد قدامي كأني فرد زيي زيه. بيكلمني من منطلق إن أنا قوي وإن هو قوي. مش بيكلمني من منطلق إن أنا زاد عيل تافه أو إن أنا شاب أهوج, عارفة المفهوم الأبوي. ودا على فكرة حاجة تُحترم ليه كشخص. أنا لسه ماعرفش أي حاجة بس برضه من منطبق الموضوعية أحترم، بغض النظر، بس أنا فخور بالشباب لأن الشباب هم اللي عملوا كدا.

Translation:

Mona Shazli: Wail Said Abbas Ghoneim.  I learned his four part name by heart from having inquired about him so many times.  We only tried to find out if he was dead or alive. I found out that his family tried hard to look for him in hospitals and by asking lots of people. Suddenly, after being detained at State Security since Friday the 28th, Wael Ghoneim was released today.  Welcome Wael.

Wael Ghoneim: Thank you.  (Looking down, very emotional, hands crossed on the table.) Firstly I would like to say something to everyone, to mothers and fathers who lost their children: (a sign appears with Wael Ghoneim’s name and position as Google’s Regional Marketing Manager) I’d like to convey my condolences and may God accept their children as martyrs whether civilians, police officers or soldiers.  Anyone who died is a martyr.  I don’t want to apologize, because the people who organized the protests never intended to destroy anything not to mention commit murder.  We are all young people who love Egypt and have done this because we love Egypt.  (Camera zooms in gradually on Wael’s face) It was impossible … The first thing we wrote was that “we are entitled to our rights.” Rights will never be gained by destroying personal, private or public property.  We will gain our rights by demanding them.  It was our only hope that everybody would take the streets and say “we demand our rights and we will take them!”

I feel obliged to give my condolences to those who sacrificed their lives.  I want to tell you … We will speak about … In Egypt we like to create heroes but I’m not a hero.  I’ve been away sleeping for 12 days.  The heroes are the ones who took the streets, the heroes are the ones that joined the demonstrations, the heroes are the ones who sacrificed their lives, the heroes are the ones who were beaten, the heroes are the ones who were arrested and exposed to real dangers (with enthusiasm).

I was not a hero.  Unfortunately … what happened to me made me regret that I wasn’t with the people.  I came back from the Emirates to join the protest.  I even had to lie at work and said that there was an urgent personal matter related to my father that I had to attend to.  I said I had to return to Egypt for six days.  I had leave balance.  They told me fine, no problem, is everything OK?  I said sorry this is a personal matter and I flew to Egypt.  I came just to join the demonstration, because I had to join the Egyptian people.  However, before we start our interview, I want to correct some of the information you mentioned.

Mona: Go ahead Wael.

Wael: First of all, Naguib is my colleague in the Emirates.  Second, he is not Syrian.

Mona:  I’m sorry.  His Levantine accent made me think he was Syrian.

Wael: He’s Jordanian.

Mona: Jordanian.

Wael: Do you know why I am clarifying this issue? Because we are not traitors, Mona!  We are not traitors!  We love Egypt!

Mona: Wael, …

Wael: We do not follow anyone’s agenda.  Some of us are rich, live in fancy houses and drive the best cars.  I don’t need anything from anyone.  And I’ve never needed anything from anyone.  Everything that was done put all of our lives in danger.  We could not possibly foresee the dangers we faced.  We didn’t know. We just acted.  We said we will fight for our rights.  This is our country.  We were all subjected to threats and none of us joined the fight for personal interests.  The people who planned and took to the streets were not seeking their personal interests.  I’m not seeking my interests. You know what has tormented me the most while I was detained?  That the people would know that I’m the admin (referring to his role as the administrator of the “We are All Khaled Said” Facebook group page).  I wish no one found out that I was the admin (sobbing) because I’m not the hero. I was only typing on my keyboard (in English), sharing information via the internet, Mona, and have not subjected myself to direct danger.  I don’t want to mention names now because I’ve just been released and I don’t know where they are and I also might put their lives at stake if I say their names.   But there are a lot of people who subjected their lives to danger, for example Mostafa el-Naggar, the one you interviewed.  They were really putting their lives at stake while I was typing on my keyboard.  Ya Gama’a please!  There are no heroes.  The heroes are the ones on the streets.  The heroes are each and every one of us.  The time when one hero would ride his horse to lead the masses is long gone.  So, please don’t let anyone fool you (raises his pointing finger in a warning gesture)!  This is the internet youth revolution.  This is the internet youth revolution which became the young people’s revolution, and later became the Egyptian nation’s revolution.  It has no single hero that dominates the scene.  We have all been heroes.  That is my first point.

Mona: Wael, first of all, I know you have just been released.  I just want you to know we can take a break at any time to catch your breath or to think.  I just want you to know that there’s no pressure on you.

Wael: I haven’t slept for 48 hours, but that’s a personal issue; I just couldn’t fall asleep.

Mona: Why did you say initially “we are not traitors?” Did they accuse you of that?

Wael: Mam, we no longer listen to each other carefully.  I just want to say that it is a trend now to call each other traitors.  Anyone may call you a traitor. Remember when you talked about… when I called you to ask that you say the truth and told me: “both the protesters and the security apparatus are pressuring us and no one knows what to do”.  This is a time where people tend to see each other as traitors.  But, let me tell you something. If I told you now that I was tortured, beaten up, and electrocuted, then took my clothes off but had no scars, you all would still believe me. Right? You’d believe me because I have credibility.  But in fact this didn’t happen.  I was not physically abused since… That surprised a lot. Since I…

Mona: You were in the demonstrations.

Wael: I was in the demonstration of the 25th.

Mona: When did we talk, around one or two a.m.?

Wael: I was seized by state security and they treated me in a very strange way.  I was actually treated respectfully, and I dealt with very refined people in the security apparatus.  When they first interrogated me, they were fully convinced that we had foreign support, either ideologically or financially.  They were concerned someone was dictating to us where to protest and what to post over the internet.  You know, nothing has hurt me; my parents have earned a lot of merits for all the times they were cursed by the soldiers, but that didn’t hurt me.   What hurt me was one of the officers suspecting I was a traitor.  Later on he changed his mind. But we are not traitors; we love Egypt.  By the way, if I had been a traitor, I would have stayed by the pool at my villa in the Emirates, having a good time.  My salary keeps increasing and I had no problems.  I could have said like many do: “To hell with Egypt.  It is not our country.  They own it.”  That’s what I would have said had I been a traitor. But I’m no traitor.  One of the things I’m truly proud of is that I could convince these people that we are not traitors, that nothing has been pushing us except our love for our country.  At first they couldn’t believe that a few Facebook kids – that’s what they used to call us when we were rallying for Khaled Said could mobilize tens of thousands on the 25th.  But we truly believed in ourselves.  My role was only a catalyst that called for people to take the streets.  Some people exerted real efforts and those must be interviewed to describe how they envisioned this and planned for it; how we would defend people, how we would get people to clean up the streets.  But I wanted to say that …

Mona: Wael, please catch your breath.

Wael: Sorry I …

Mona: We are not an investigative authority, so you don’t need to swear that you love your country and that you’re not a traitor.

Wael: Unfortunately … No, hold on.  I want to say something.

Mona: Go ahead.

Wael: We are living through times where evil is the norm so the good are always perceived as traitors.  But this is absolutely not true. On the 25th what I saw personally made me proud to be an Egyptian.  I didn’t’ see a single case of sexual harassment, I saw average Egyptians cleaning up the streets, I didn’t see anyone smashing traffic lights.  I saw people stopping each other from using violence.  A stone was thrown at my foot…  Mona, there were some ignorant protestors, but they only resorted to violence after they had been shot at with rubber bullets, and after they had been attacked.  I would just like to say again that we are living in a time … People were constantly questioning my intentions on the group page.  My personal life was a wreck and my wife wanted to get a divorce because I wasn’t spending time with her.  Yet, I get snobs calling me and others who were helping out with the page traitors who get foreign funding.  I want to say that we love our country and I don’t accept anyone saying otherwise about us or anyone else.

Mona: Wael, I would like to mention an incident that you may have forgotten.  You were the young man who called me at the end of last year to describe a nationwide campaign to map dirty areas in order to pressure authorities to clean them up.  I supported you, but also recommended that you add clean areas to the map to motivate the authorities to take action.  Someone who thinks this way would never harm his country.

Wael: I’ve never been as optimistic as I was on the 25th.   I was totally impressed by what the people have done; the people proved… During the interrogations I even asked the officers to try to argue against this.  I also asked Dr. Hossam the same thing today during the meeting you mentioned. I would really like to thank everyone who tried to get me out as I’m a grateful person who respects everyone who helps me, but at the same time (on the verge of sobbing) it is unfair for my father who is half blind to spend 12 days not knowing his sons whereabouts. Tell me why (sobbing). If they want to arrest me they can do so legally with a specific accusation.  Interrogate me, it’s your right.  But inform my family!  What I finally want to say is that I felt that the people who interrogated me were at least genuine.  They were trying to work for the benefit of Egypt.  But I can’t judge intentions.  I’ve been blindfolded for 12 days unaware of the news.  I used to sing “Ihlam ma’aya” out of despair and ignorance.  I used to wonder whether the people backed down; whether anyone still remembered me; whether anyone called for Wael Ghoneim’s release.  They didn’t inform me of any piece of news. What has hurt me is that my wife in the Emirates, my mother in Egypt and my half-blind father in Saudi Arabia didn’t know my whereabouts.  Informing them would not have caused any harm to security nor should it be considered a security leak.  Even if they suspected me, interrogate me.  I said all the truth as I was proud of what I’ve done, which they may have known anyways.  What matters now is not settling accounts.  Personally, there are many people I’d like to get even with.  For many politicians who would understand me: this is not time to slice the pie.  Thirdly, this is not the time to force ideologies.

There are a lot of politicians and leaders who will understand what I am saying; this is not the time to divide up the pie.

I haven’t yet talked to the page member. Please take care, I am not a hero, nor… One of the reasons of the success of our page is that we used to do a survey before we made any decision and the opinion of the majority is the one that wins. I am speaking now for ‘Wael’ who has just been released, was blindfolded, hasn’t seen anything, doesn’t know anything. I was just released at 7 or 8:00 pm today. I came out and went to meet the minister of interior… I can’t express how much I am proud of you ya Gama’a; the minister of interior was sitting with me, as equals; he was not talking down at me … (addressing Mona) as they used to treat us in a patriarchal manner like shallow, irrational kid. I am really proud of the young people who have done this!

Commentary:

The commentary on this translation takes up a few pages.  Our group felt that it was necessary to provide fairly extensive comments on this translation in order to adequately contextualize this interview which played a crucial role in re-energizing the revolution at a critical moment.  In addition, this long interview provided a variety of interesting linguistic challenges and nuances that were worthy of comment.

Translating an interview involves forms of reconstruction that entail a complex process of listening to the interview multiple times, reworking segments of the interview, thinking about the context and the speakers, reshaping the ideas in the target language and, ultimately, rewriting. This more or less sums up the path taken by our group in translating the first 15 minutes of Wael Ghoneim’s heartbreaking and dramatic interview with TV host Mona El-Shazly on February 7th. Wael Ghoneim is a young Egyptian professional who graduated from Cairo University‘s Faculty of Engineering, received his MBA from the American University in Cairo, and is currently Google’s Marketing Manager for the MENA Region. Wael had no history of political activity before 2010 when he created the “Kolona Khaled Said” (We are all Khaled Said) Facebook group. He was agitated by the story of Khalid Said, a 28 year old man who was arrested, tortured and killed by the police after he forwarded a video of police officers dividing up confiscated narcotics. The Facebook group has tried to expose the use of torture by the police and repeatedly called for protests against them, while attempting to maintain the anonymity of its administrators. It called for protests on January, 25th 2011, Egypt’s Police Day.  Many supporters responded to the call on what became known as Egypt’s Day of Anger.

Being one of the masterminds behind the January 25th revolt, Wael Ghoneim was arrested on January 26th at 2 am.  He remained detained and blindfolded at State Security for 12 consecutive days, unaware of the turmoil taking place all over Egypt. Local and international calls maintained pressure on Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik’s government and the ex-ruling National Democratic Party to release Wael, which happened on the evening of February 7th.

14 days into the Egyptian uprising, people were losing hope and dividing into two camps, one calling for the overthrow of the Mubarak regime and the other calling for an end to the revolutionary movement. President Mubarak’s emotional second speech on February 1st divided the Egyptian street. The aging ex-President appealed to the masses in a humble and patriarchal tone to allow him to complete his presidential term in a dignified manner. Millions of Egyptians, especially those on the sidelines, were persuaded by his appeal.

For two weeks, Egyptian state-sponsored and affiliated private media portrayed the people protesting on the streets as immature, reckless, irrational, poor and homeless youths; many who had never taken to the streets believed it. The official and semi-official Egyptian media also alleged that foreign news channels including Al Jazeera, Al Arabia, CNN, and BBC Arabic, were seeking to divide Egypt and create a sense of despair. This drove many Egyptian viewers away from the international news media and back to state-sponsored pro-Mubarak news sources. In short, the uprising was slowly losing momentum and nothing was happening to reverse this situation.

Wael Ghoneim’s sudden release and his subsequent and emotional public appearance effectively managed to bring people back to the struggle against the regime. Wael’s exceptionally emotional performance throughout the interview, highlighted by his breaking into tears and his sudden departure from the studio when shown photos of deceased protesters, far outweighed the impact of Mubarak’s performance during his latest speech. Furthermore, Wael provided an image of the protestors very different from those shown by the state-sponsored media; he himself was well-educated, spoke good Arabic in addition to English, had a very reputable job, and was affluent. He contradicted the widely accepted negative stereotypes about the protestors and made many relate to him and the demonstrators and respect their efforts. The interview won the hearts of millions of Egyptians. Consequently, Tuesday February 8th marked a very important turning point in terms of the number of protestors in Tahrir Square and all across Egypt demanding Mubarak’s immediate removal.

Regardless of how one assesses Wael Ghoneim’s efforts throughout the Egyptian Revolution and beyond, this interview was a significant event for the uprising and it was the reason why our group decided to translate a segment of it.

Mona El Shazly, the presenter of a very popular talk show on the Egyptian Dream 2 channel started her interview by welcoming Wael. The phrase Hamdulillah 3ala al-salaama (حمدلله على السلامة) is mainly used when someone has returned from a trip or has recovered from an illness. It is used here because he had just been released from detention, which is comparable to recovering from a disease or returning from a journey. Unfortunately the word ‘welcome’ in English does not adequately convey the meaning of this phrase which we found very difficult to express in English.

Wael started speaking using a Classical Arabic expression of condolences and referring to the martyrs in tears. He used Fusha (the term referring to standard, classical and/or literary Arabic) expressions of condolences in the middle of his ameya (colloquial) discourse.  Linguistically, this natural and smooth fluctuation between Fusha and ameya and the expressions Wael uses convey his above average level of education, culture and professional standing. His occasional use of English terminology reinforces this image and, for the Arab people listening and watching, is a sign of his belonging to a high social class.

Wael repeats certain words and phrases which he wanted to emphasize.  This repletion is maintained in the English language text in order to better convey the ideas and feelings he was stressing.

Wael refers to the song Ihlam ma’aaia by Hamza Namira, a young new singer. The video for this song is about a little boy making paper boats and thinking of sailing, and it is all about dreams. Wael said that he was not a hero and he didn’t participate in the demonstrations because of his detention, he was just singing this song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-k6kiTz9Vg

Wael used the expression ya gamaa’a to address the people watching the program. Our group has decided to not translate it into English and leave it as it is in Arabic. The word Jamaa’a in Arabic has a religious connotation and has been used in the English language to refer to Islamist groups like Al-Jama’a Al-Islamiya.  In order to reflect the harder pronunciation of Arabic letter jeem in the Egyptian dialect, we spelled it with a g instead of a j.  It is worth noting the use of this term in English in a context devoid of any religious connotation; the expression ya gamaa’a (يا جماعة) is commonly used to address a group of people.

Among the challenging terms to translate was the word HaDritik (حضرتك). Wael uses this term to address Mona, the presenter of the program. First, we considered translating it as ‘Ms. Mona’, then we felt it too formal, so we decided to use ‘Mam’ which is a term used in a comparable way, however حضرتك has no exact equivalent in English.

There is a cultural expression used by Wael as a reference to the fact that he has been insulted in jail by the officials, he has been referred to as ‘son of a …’.  This is understood from the expression:  My mom and dad have collected so many hasanat (حسنات). Although there is no exact equivalent to such an expression in English, we used the term merits as it seemed the most appropriate of the translations supplied by the Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic.

Another term that has a cultural connotation and was a bit difficult to translate is the word 3eyaal (عيال). It means more than just the English ‘kids’. It implies irresponsibility, irrationality, being young in age, trying to act like adults, losers, etc.

Haatit rijl 3ala rijl (حاطط رجل على رِجل) is another expression that has no equivalent in English and a literal translation will not convey the same meaning. The expression describes how a person sits in a manner displaying a relaxed confidence while displaying a snobbish attitude to those around them.

We as a group decided to keep the word Haram (حرام) as it is in Arabic, to add it to the English dictionary. The term, meaning forbidden, was used to convey the Wael’s sense of injustice for the fact that his parents spent so many days after he was detained without knowing anything about his whereabouts and wellbeing.   Wael’s sobbing and emotional state while he used this term to express his outrage over this situation amplified the impact of his message.

All of the text that appears in parentheses in the English translation should be read as “stage direction” or explanatory notes only.  Nothing that was actually said in the interview appears in parentheses.

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About Jan 25 Translators

We are the students of ARIC 402/513 - Translating Revolution, taught by Samia Mehrez at the American University in Cairo.
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4 Responses to Wael Ghonim’s Interview With Mona Shazly On February 7th

  1. Daniel Gumbiner says:

    Hello, I would like to re-publish this translation of Wael’s interview. Please contact me as soon as possible to discuss. Thanks!

    Daniel Gumbiner

    DGumbiner@gmail.com

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