Mohamed ElBaradeiActivist / Political Figure
Birthplace: Cairo, Egypt
Best known as: The Egyptian winner of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize
Mohamed ElBaradei won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons -- and six years later was thrust into the public eye as the face of the Egyptian uprisings of 2011. Mohamed ElBaradei was a slightly unusual figure for a revolutionary: he studied law at the University of Cairo (graduating in 1962) and then spent years as a diplomat in the Egyptian government, working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (starting in 1964) and then at Egypt's mission to the United Nations. He joined the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1984, and over the next 13 years rose to the position of director general of the entire agency. He held that post from 1997-2009, during which time he both worked with and clashed with the American administration of George W. Bush, particularly over the alleged threats of "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq and Iran. Mohamed ElBaradei and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for their work "to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way." He returned to Egypt in 2009, where he joined the tens of thousands who flooded the streets of Cairo in 2011, calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. "You are the owners of this revolution. You are the future," he told protesters during one gathering in Tahrir Square.
Extra credit: Mohamed ElBaradei earned a PhD in international law from New York University in 1974... He is married to Aida Elkachef; they have a daughter, Laila, and a son, Mostafa... ElBaradei's father, Mostafa ElBaradei, was the former president of the Egyptian Bar Association, according to Nobel.org... Mohamed ElBaradei was Egypt's top-ranked squash player at age 19, according to a 2011 report from CBC News.
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