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The deposed or former president? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I asked some Egyptian friends how they would like to refer to former President Hosni Mubarak, currently in custody in Sharm el-Sheikh: “former, or deposed?” I was struck by the two answers, firstly: An Egyptian woman thought a little, and then said former of course, because this is the reality, he stepped down, and we must stick to the reality. Secondly, another friend believed that the man had been ousted, because the people forced him to step down. Indeed this is one of the contrived issues being raised these days to undermine the people and distract them from what is most important, namely thinking of the form of society and the state they want. I went on to say: I am afraid this controversy and confusion means we will have to say “the deposed former President”! Of course this scenario would never happen, although it is humorous nonetheless.

The reason for this question was the uproar caused by Asharq al-Awsat when it published a report from Cairo on the 12th of June, about incidents of television programs using the term “former” instead of “ousted”, with the state television supervisor denying the issuance of any directives or instructions to do so.

A real and objective description[of Hosni Mubarak] would say: Mubarak stands in the area between former and deposed, the evidence and events say he was forced, under pressure, to hand over power and relinquish his role despite desperate attempts to hold on to the throne, after millions of Egyptians came out against him. But also there is the official statement read by his deputy, who took office for a few days in the name of the presidency, and announced Mubarak’s resignation, which avoided a situation of him being overthrown by outright force, or a coup d’etat. In the end Mubarak took the decision to step down, whether he signed the papers voluntarily or by coercion.

Deposed or former? I assume that this is now a chapter in history and the matter is over, as I cannot imagine a situation where Mubarak would return to the presidential palace to become the “deposed former President”. Anyone can call him what they want, for it is not an important issue to the extent that it should become a source of controversy and strong media interest, at a time when people urgently need to think about the future and its implications of great importance, constitutional and political, most notably the legislative elections supposed to take place in less than three months from now. The issue is just one of many surrounding the former regime which are picked up by the media, some of them political, others pure incitement, and people are drowning in the details.

It is understood that there is much injustice, clear public anger at the practices of the former regime, and a desire for former officials to be held accountable for what they did. However, when you allow the matter of accountability for the past, and stories of former practices, whatever the volume of press and media agitation, to encompass the entire area, leaving only a small part for thinking about the future, something has clearly gone wrong. There are some who intend to capitalize on the masses, distorting their genuine goals. More than 80 percent of Egyptians endorsed the revolution according to international opinion polls, and 11 percent of the country’s population came onto the street to demonstrate, but now they need the elite to establish sincere dialogue, and enlighten the masses on how to build a modern democratic state. According to local polls in Egypt, carried out by international bodies and published recently, the Egyptians are optimistic, by a large majority of more than 60 percent following the revolution, despite talk of concern about economic problems, and security chaos, that the future will be better. It is imperative for the masses that the intellectual and political elite transcend their intellectual differences, and move towards common ground. They must be more interested in building the future and protecting the revolution from a relapse, or the people growing tired of it. The greatest revenge that can be taken against the former regime is to establish the foundations of a modern, democratic and prosperous state, where everyone feels they have a stake in what happens.

Ali Ibrahim

Ali Ibrahim

Ali Ibrahim is Asharq Al-Awsat's deputy editor-in-chief. He is based in London.

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