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"This was an internet revolution. I'll call it revolution 2.0." Walid Rachid

Young Egyptian Activists, who sparked the protests, tell how they used the internet to galvanise Cairo's protest movement

By Jon Swaine 12:57AM GMT 11 Feb 2011

Walid Ghonim, a 30-year-old executive from Google, was the administrator of an anti-torture page on Facebook, the social networking website, that is widely credited with organising the first day of protest on January 25.

In an interview with CNN, Mr Ghonim, who has been hailed as a hero for his role in the movement, said: "This was an internet revolution. I'll call it revolution 2.0."

It began when Walid Rachid, 27, an online activist, wrote to Mr Ghonim – who was acting anonymously – asking for "marketing help" with his group's plans for a protest on January 25.

The pair communicated via Google's Instant Messaging system, apparently the only form of communication Mr Ghonim believed to be secure, and pulled together an alliance of different youth groups via the web.

They threw off the scent of Egyptian authorities, according to Zyad el-Elaimy, a 30-year-old Communist activist and lawyer, by advertising online that they would be meeting at a mosque, and then actually meeting in a poor area elsewhere.

Sally Moore, a 32-year-old Irish-Egyptian psychiatrist, and Left-wing feminist activist, said the activists split into two teams. One rallied people in cafés, the other chanted at surrounding buildings, telling people to come out and protest about poverty.

"Our group started when we were 50," Miss Moore told The New York Times.

"When we left the neighbourhood we were thousands." The first day of protest had begun.

Over the following days, more and more protesters were persuaded into Tahrir Square, many by messages posted on Twitter, others by text message. They continued to dupe police over the locations of meetings.

On Jan 28, under orders from the Mubarak regime, Egypt's four main internet providers cut off service, in a bid to break the protesters' momentum. Vodafone, its main mobile phone provider, said it was also forced to block its signal.

Twitter and Google teamed up to allow activists to continue Tweeting by making phone calls, but considerable damage was done to the online side of the protest movement.

Five days later, after global condemnation of Mubarak's censorship, the services were restored and the activists were back online. But by then the revolution had outgrown them.

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