Mubarak on trial — finally

The sight of Mubarak in the court inside a cage altered forever his image in the eyes of many Egyptians.

Editorial August 04, 2011

The trial of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is immensely significant in many ways. For one, it marks the first time an Arab nation has, on its own, placed a former dictator on trial. The proceedings in Iraq which led to the hanging of Saddam Hussein were conducted entirely by a third party, the US, with purposes of its own.

The sight of Mubarak — for decades Egypt’s strongman — in the court inside a cage which held his hospital bed altered forever in the eyes of many Egyptians the image of a man who had for so long ruled their lives. In many ways he had, in his dapper suits and crisp ties, seemed almost invincible. His appearance in so different a situation, covered by a sheet and occasionally raising an arm to shield his face, tells people a completely different story. It may also alter the way dictators are looked at and the trial indeed begins at a crucial time in the region, when the struggle for democratic rights in Syria appears to be moving in to new gear and there is unrest in other parts of the Middle East.

Mubarak, with nine co-defendants, including two of his sons, is charged with the killing of people during protests in January. He has denied the charges. It will be significant to see the way things proceed — given that these are accusations that could, in time, be brought against other leaders in a region where change has come quickly. The trial of Mubarak, the testimonies we hear during it, the defence put up and the verdict that is finally delivered, both in the case of Mubarak himself and his son and ex-heir apparent Gamal, may indeed push this change forward even faster. We are watching history unfold at great speed. Cameras seem to be in fast-forward mode. Certainly, till early this year, most Egyptians would never have believed what they are seeing, or grasp how quickly their political destiny could change as ordinary people brought about the fall of a once mighty dictator who today presents the rather sorry image of a defeated man. Perhaps there is something to be learnt from all of this  among the region’s regimes, many of which remain dictatorial.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2011.


SharifL | 12 years ago | Reply

It is time dictators also see the bars from inside. But I hope it i not a show trial, just to please Mubarak haters. Mubarak's courts - real ones, like South Cairo Court was destroyed by crazed Ikhwan rioters - introduced the iron cage like the one containing the ailing dictator on his deathbed for the trials of Muslim Brotherhood terrorist cells rounded up after committing or plotting one of their periodicals bloodbaths. As Mubarak is thrown to the dogs by Egypt's new dictator Field Marshall Mohammed Tantawi while the crowds on Tahrir Square on savaged by his troops, the fat cat generals and rich Copts who rule Egypt wait apprehensively to see if the hopped-up mobs unleashed by this artificial color revolution can be bottled up once again like the proverbial genie, and business as usual can resume. It will help Pakistan if instead of civilian leaders, a military dictator is alsotried. That, if any thing, will discourage future 'savers' of marching in with their boots to Islamabad.

N | 12 years ago | Reply

You think, we could do the same to Yahya Khan, Musharraff etc. in our land of the pure?

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