Originally published in Pravmir on 3rd August 2011
By Minas Monir
There’s a consensus among Egyptians, regardless of their political or ideological affiliation, that the trial of the former president Mubarak is considered to be one of the most extraordinary and unforgettable moments in the history of Egypt.
Muhammed Hosni Mubarak, 83 years old and president of Egypt for 30 years, witnessed great and catastrophic moments in his life. Mubarak was one of the leaders of Egyptian air force when Israeli fighters destroyed all the Egyptian air power while the planes were on the land in the 6 days war in 1967. He lived through the controversial death of the then president of Egypt, Gamal Abdul Nasser. However, he was the leader of the Egyptian air strike which led to a glorious victory in the history of Egypt on the 6th of October 1973. He was also less than half a meter from President Sadat when he was shot in one of the most dramatic scenes in the history of modern Egypt. This assassination brought him to the presidency of the most populous nation in the region.
However, I dare to say that all of these tragic events he lived through cannot be equal to the experience of laying on a bed in an 8 meters square cage with his two sons after 30 years of sitting on an unapproachable throne. Before we are moved to feel any sympathy towards him, we need first to understand why this happened.
A few meters outside the court in which the trial was held, hundreds of mothers were crying out to let them attend it. They believe that Mubarak is responsible for the murder of 800 youths who raised olive branches in front of the Security Services (SS) killing machine. In the same cage in which Mubarak is being tried, there was a former security service officer called Ismail el-Sha’er, he crushed 18 young men and a girl under the wheels of his car and escaped. The same cage contained Habib el-Adly, the former interior minister who has spread fear in the hearts of Egyptians for 14 years.
For 30 years Mubarak was called the everlasting pharaoh. He was a man who managed to diminish the potential democratic process and use the heavy stick of the police state to oppress Egyptians. His presidency caused a series of political, social and economic collapses took place consecutively, let alone the highest level of religious discrimination against Christians. This put Egypt top of the ranks of the black listed for religious freedom.
Ironically, Mubarak is being tried in a hall at a police academy, the very same place in which he appeared for his last live speech congratulating policemen and Egypt for their success in arresting those who were involved in the bombing of the Saints Church in Alexandria on the first day of 2011. That was his last attempt to veil the failure and corruption of his security services. That attempt was later falsified by the evidence revealed after the 25 January revolution, which suggested that the SS was actually behind the bombing in Alexandria.
But let’s shed some light on the political impact of today’s event. First of all, Mubarak and his sons along with the major SS officers and the interior minister started their long anticipated trial for “the deliberate murdering of demonstrators” beside “financial corruption.” The trial will be held on a daily basis and is expected to continue for about a month, according to law experts. This trial shifts Egypt from the age of the tribal concept of leadership, which enshrines the president as a father and a historic figure that is above law, to the state of law system which doesn’t recognize anyone above law.
This trial will leave no room to breach the law for any emotional or ideological excuses. This will also accelerate the transition of Egypt to move towards a new chapter in its history and to surpass the wounds of nearly three decades under emergency law.
However, the case didn’t close and the chapter of Egypt’s history under Mubarak needs to be carefully investigated in order to find the point of departure towards a real reformation. This means that Egyptians should seriously undertake the exhaustive procedure of tracing and trying the figures of the former regime and their legacy.
Internationally, the trial of the strongest leader in the region is considered as a strong message to every dictator, and particularly in the Middle East region, that they will be called for account by his own nation. This message should be taken wisely by forcing dictators to reconsider their attitude towards their peoples. Democracy and the state of law became an inevitable destiny for all the nations that seek dignity and freedom.
Ancient Egyptians used to mummify their pharaohs to enshrine them and keep them for eternity. However, I believe that the next few days will unveil the dark side of Mubarak’s reign, which will make him, as Thomas Friedman comments in the New York Times, a pharaoh without a mummy.