Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Egypt: From the Camel to the Sickbed | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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One of the final enduring images of the Mubarak regime was the scenes of the “battle of the camel”, whilst one of the first enduring images of post-revolutionary Egypt is that of Hosni Mubarak on trial from his [hospital] bed. These two images reveal that Egypt is going from bad to worse!

Mubarak and his sons were brought to court, with the former president being wheeled into the dock in his sickbed, in a scene that does not point to justice so much as it points to a desire for revenge and retribution against a former president who stepped down from power in the face of popular pressure. The revolutionaries did not triumph over him by forcing him to flee the country or hide in a cave or indeed a hole in the ground, like Saddam Hussein. Nor was Hosni Mubarak like Bashar al-Assad, who is openly killing his own people today, or like Colonel Gaddafi who has become a specialist in murdering his own citizens. Rather, Mubarak was wheeled into court in his [hospital] bed, after he stepped down from power voluntarily. If anyone wants to claim otherwise, i.e. that Mubarak was forced to step down by the military, then this means that what happened in Egypt was not a revolution, but rather a coup d’état.

Therefore, what the world – including the Egyptians and Arabs – witnessed with regards to Mubarak’s trial was nothing more than a day of revenge against an unarmed and sick man. This is as if the Egyptian revolutionaries have moved on from their famous slogan “the people want the fall of the regime” to “the people want the condemnation of the [former] president!” The question that must be asked here is: do the Egyptian people want to build a new state, or revenge themselves against Mubarak and his family? If the Egyptian people had marched on the [presidential] palace during the revolution and defeated Mubarak and his family, executing them in Tahrir Square, then we would have said “this is a revolution and anything is possible!” However for Mubarak to voluntarily step down from power, stay at home, and then be brought to trial in his sickbed in this manner, then this is something that does not point to justice, especially as he is not one of the worst criminals against humanity or committers of crimes of genocide.

Whatever has been said, and is being said, Hosni Mubarak remains a man like any other, and has committed both good and bad deeds. The greatest wrong that he committed against his own country – as well as against himself and his own family – was that he allowed himself to be seduced by power – remaining in power for decades – viewing this as his absolute right; even though he knew that such power could not last forever. However Mubarak himself was wronged when those around him, including his inner circle and even members of his own family, began to view him as the king of Egypt, believe that Egypt would never rise up against him, and even believe that he could bequeath power to his son. Today we are witnessing an end to Mubarak that nobody with a shrewd of sense with regards to national building – not to mention those who want to see Egypt as a state of law – wants to see.

Therefore, the Egyptian people must ask themselves the following questions today: is Iraq today witnessing its best times after Saddam Hussein was brought to trial, and executed on Eid al-Adha? Are the Iraqis today witnessing a good state of affairs under a regime that called for revenge [against Saddam Hussein]? Would it not be better to follow the South African model, which saw Nelson Mandela – after he was released from prison – issue a general amnesty for all of his opponents in order to help to build a strong state, despite all the racism that he and his supporters were subject to?

If the objective of the Egyptian people, and particularly the civil political forces, is to revenge themselves on Mubarak, then I say congratulation on your victory over this man in his sickbed! However if they want to build a state, then the congratulations will go to those who will emerge victorious by not becoming preoccupied with revenge and retribution, but rather by strengthening their [political] position on the ground. In this regard, the Egyptian people must today closely monitor the Muslim Brotherhood!