CAIRO, Egypt (AFP) – Many Egyptians are rejoicing that Hosni Mubarak, the dictator they overthrew in a popular uprising, will face trial, but some say they are sorry to see the former president “humiliated.”
“I am very pleased at this news. Firstly, it is a lesson for those who come after him: the country is not yours, you cannot do what you want with impunity,” said Mohammed Gouda, a 31-year-old employee who knew only Mubarak’s rule in his lifetime.
Gouda was not bothered that the ex-president, who ruled for three decades, would be tried at his age, 83. “He might be old, but he is a thief,” he said.
The fight against corruption, pervasive in Egypt, was and remains a key demand of activists who launched the protests on January 25 that toppled Mubarak.
The public prosecutor on Tuesday announced that Mubarak and his two sons will face trial for the killings of anti-regime protesters and for corruption.
Mubarak is currently in hospital in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, receiving treatment after he reportedly suffered a heart attack during an interrogation in April.
“He is sick. So what? We are also sick, psychologically, after what has been done for 30 years,” said Neamati Salaheddin, a photographer who wears a badge saying “Egyptians against corruption.”
“It’s only fair. He must be held accountable and punished like any Egyptian according to the law,” said Mohammed Fawzi, a 25-year-old fruit seller.
Many say they deeply resent the former president and his sons, whom they describe as “arrogant” and “completely divorced from the people.”
They are accused of subjecting millions to poverty while distributing the country’s wealth unfairly.
Mubarak may face the death penalty if convicted of the premeditated murder charge. “The law and justice must be the same for everyone,” said one man, Ahmed al-Sayyed.
Dalia Fawzi, 24, and Aya Magdi, 22, said they were delighted at the news. But they said they had wavered on February 10, when the president gave a defiant speech just a day before resigning.
“He was smart and knew how to use expressions that went straight to the heart,” said Aya. But “he destroyed the country,” she said. “It is because of him that we are underdeveloped.”
But some say they were saddened by the downfall of the former president.
“It is such a humiliation for him. He is an old man,” said Sally Ahmed, a 17-year-old schoolgirl.
Ahmed Mohammed, an electrician, questioned what trying Mubarak would accomplish.
“What will it do for the families of the martyrs if he goes to jail,” he asked.