Google executive gets JFK award for courage

Ghonim is being given the honour along with "the people of Egypt. The prestigious award that honours "political courage" will be presented by the late president's daughter Caroline Kennedy at the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum here on May 23.

The other recipient for the award is North Carolina School Board member Elizabeth Redenbaugh, who fought against racial segregation in school redistricting plans. "From a small county school district in North Carolina to Tahrir Square in Cairo, this year's Profile in Courage honourees show us the importance of individual acts of conscience. Win or lose, Wael Ghonim and Elizabeth Redenbaugh stood up when it counted," Kennedy, President of the JFK Library Foundation, said in a statement.

The foundation said Ghonim and his fellow Egyptians empowered a new generation of citizen activists all over the world. Ghonim will receive the award in the name of the people of Egypt.

Ghonim had launched a Facebook page that sparked the protests in Egypt, eventually resulting in the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. As the protests grew in size and intensity, Ghonim was arrested and held captive for 12 days by Egyptian security forces.

The award, instituted in 1989 to honour President Kennedy's contribution to public service, is presented annually by the JFK Library Foundation to public servants who have made "courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences".

It is named for President Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, 'Profiles in Courage'. Past recipients of the award include President Gerald Ford and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

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