Mubarak triumphs

The Egyptian Court's sweeping exoneration of Hosni Mubarak, his henchmen and his sons is an insult to Egyptians who give their lives in support of democracy and human rights. It is also a signal that the new and brutal man in charge has done his job regaining lost ground for his old boss.       

The Egyptian judiciary has fulfilled its purpose.

Its acquittal of former President Hosni Mubarak of conspiring to kill 240 protesters has turned full circle on the January 25, 2011 revolution.

In the words of the court Egypt has apparently “overcome the revolutionary phase”.

The Mubarak ruling - along with the clearing of the feared former interior minister Habib el-Adly, six high level aides and the notorious Mubarak sons Gamal and Alaa, has essentially put on trial the January 25 revolution instead of the other way around.

Distraught family members of the more than 800 killed in the revolution cried did their loved ones die then? did they all commit suicide?

They are left with a formal 1,430 page verdict wrapped in ribbons the colours of the Egyptian flag which essentially tells them that the blood of their loved ones was wasted.

There will be little comfort in any qualifications from the judge who claimed that the Revolution’s goals of freedom and social justice were justified. 

The ruling is a joke and a sad day for what Egypt calls its justice system.

The technicalities such as disappearance of evidence, taping over of police records and length of time between the incidents and the retrial cannot be taken seriously.

It was a show trial from the start - initially billed as the trial of the century for Egypt.

Now this part of the show is over.

Few will be, or should be surprised.

Few outside Mubarak’s circle of support (which is for many reasons substantial) will take seriously the court’s comment that of course the 86 year old Mubarak is yet (or perhaps soon) to face questions from the ultimate judge - his god.

The record on Mubarak’s rule over three decades would indicate rather clearly that he gave little thought to what his god might think of his dictator proclivities.

The man himself - Mubarak, not god - told a local radio station straight after the verdict that he always knew he did nothing wrong and when he heard the first verdict in 2012 he laughed. He went on to say that with respect to this retrial he “always knew it would be different”.

Now there’s a surprise...not.     

President al-Sisi has done his job in a way that will make Mubarak proud.

The former Mubarak era security chief has played apprentice to the sorcerer.

Al-Sisi’s military coup has managed to rid Egypt of its first democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi, and, after a ‘respectable’ period the former dictator and his hangers on are free.

Despite being warned against disruptions, those who gathered in the court erupted into cheers, shouted that Mubarak is innocent, and leapt from their seats.

Mubarak’s sons kissed him as he watched from his upright stretcher inside the caged dock.

The old man then raised his fist in triumph. Oh the humility of it. 

Having recently been in Egypt (Cairo, Luxor and Aswan) the acquittal is not a surprise as it is really an extension of popular support for the rise of al-Sisi and a great deal of tolerance of his violent crack down on pro Morsi supporters.

The four years since the Revolution has seen abject misery for a massive number of Egypt’s 80 million citizens as the economy crumbled and international tourists stopped coming.

In the once crazy bustling town of Luxor the number of daily international flights has dropped from 49 to just 4.

Tourist guides can wait months between clients. The horses pulling the calashes are clearly on close to starvation diets. Businesses are shuttered. Children beg and people try desperately to sell anything they can get their hands on.

Egyptians were proud of their Revolution and the monument to it still stands, albeit graffitied, in the middle of Tahrir Square. Tanks and barbed/razor wire surround the nearby majestic museum that was looted during the uprising.

But the revolution, like the others of the so-called Arab Spring, failed to deliver for a myriad of reasons. Time and tyrants have tarnished its aspirations.

Egyptians began the democratic process by electing the once outlawed Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi. He was quick to do the dirty on them.

People I spoke to were relieved that Morsi was stupid enough to begin implementing his Islamist plan so early in his tenure. Had he waited until he was more entrenched - or been more subtle about his intentions, ousting him could have been more difficult.

This is not to say that the coup to get rid of Morsi was legal or justified and nor is the persecution and imprisonment of Morsi’s supporters or the killing of more than one thousand of them.

Al-Sisi outplayed Morsi because the former Field Marshall could read the growing dismay of Egyptians towards the Morsi agenda of a rewritten constitution and an Islamist state. They began to yearn for the days when a ‘Strongman’ made all the decisions and the tourists and their dollars returned.

Egypt has such a long road ahead and there are few signs that the endemic corruption, abuse of human rights, politically motivated imprisonments and lack of tolerance of any dissent are going to be addressed.

Indeed this acquittal would indicate the Mubarak-era gang is regaining its lost ground.  

Those who remain in Egypt’s prisons include actual political prisoners, former revolutionaries, Morsi supporters, journalists and Morsi himself who faces charges including incitement to commit murder and espionage.

If you watch AlJazeera news you will be aware that three of the network’s journalists have, as of writing, been in prison in Egypt for 336 days. The network has never failed to, each bulletin, demand their release.

They are in the company of hundreds of others on trumped up charges.

As pro-Mubarak supporters cheered, so too have anti-Mubarak and pro-Morsi Egyptians begun to protest the verdict. There is reason to fear for the safety of the protesters.

If Mubarak can be released then so must those who protested peacefully for their democratic and human rights, and so too must those behind bars for reporting on the messy reality that is currently Egypt.