By Arwa Gaballa.......... In a stranger than fiction episode in Egypt’s multi-genre soap opera, Hosni Mubarak, the man who was toppled in a popular uprising where over 800 people were killed in 2011 was released from jail after his successor's fall in 2013.
Mass demonstrations followed release of Hosni Mubarak
Hosni Mubarak's release followed mass demonstrations across the country that allowed Egypt’s army to oust the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first “democratically” elected president since the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s rule of three decades.
“It was expected, but it's also divisive and confusingly timed,” said Ahmed Fawzy Goher who like many Egyptians participated in the Jan. 25 uprising.
“At a time when proper transitional justice is absent, division and further polarization are extremely dangerous for Egypt. Could this have possibly come at a worse time?” he asked.
The army's ouster of Morsi was endorsed by many factions, but the fact that this support base included Hosni Mubarak's sympathizers and he himself was released from prison last week is now raising speculations over whether the former regime is returning to power.
When the 85-year-old former president Hosni Mubarak was flown from jail to a military hospital on Thursday in response to a prosecutor’s order to release him, some Egyptians cheered, others believed Egypt was back to square one while a third group argued that the news was expected and is of little importance.
“Hosni Mubarak left and came back to a different Egypt, one that is still in a much longer transition. Egypt has come a long way from the idealistic innocence of Tahrir in 2011 to the brutal bloodshed of Rabaa in 2013,” said Amro Ali, an Egyptian PhD Scholar at the Institute of Democracy and Human Rights and the Department of Government and International Relations at Sydney University.
Hosni Mubarak: Egyptians celebrated or mourned over Morsi's fall
After Morsi’s ouster, a new government was formed as Egyptians either celebrated their victory against “Islamic fascism” or mourned the fall of their elected leader. Meanwhile, the international community argued over whether what happened could be defined as a “coup” and threatened to reconsider aid.
Six weeks went by and Morsi’s supporters refused to budge as they held impressively steady and irritating but generally peaceful demonstrations as public opinion grew more and more impatient with their persistence in demanding the reinstatement of their Islamist president.
Following a call by the army for authorization to put an end to the pro-Morsi sit-ins, a violent crackdown on Islamists left more than 1,000 people killed, including 100 soldiers and police, hundreds arrested and at least 42 churches attacked by armed mobs.
Egypt declared a temporary state of emergency and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and just when Egyptians thought the soap opera had reached a climax, Hosni Mubarak was released from prison.
“On the one hand, he should be in prison for his numerous crimes, also his release is symptomatic of a dysfunctional and questionable judicial system that sails in the direction of the prevailing political climate. On the other hand, I’m consoled by the fact that Hosni Mubarak is still facing further and more serious charges on his next trial date,” Ali said.
Hosni Mubarak crimes
Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison last year for failing to prevent the killing of protesters during the uprising that toppled him but he appealed the ruling and was granted a retrial that he now awaits while he is placed under house arrest with his assets frozen.
A criminal court adjourned his trial, where his two sons as well as his interior minister and six of aides are also charged, to September 14 on Sunday. The defendants are also being tried for making illicit gains and abusing their political influence for profiteering while in office.
“Hosni Mubarak did not deal seriously with poverty, illiteracy or cultural and religious ignorance. His regime promoted corruption and human rights violation,” said Dr. Said Sadek, a researcher and academic at the American University in Cairo.
Hosni Mubarak supporters and opponents rally
A group of Hosni Mubarak’s supporters rallied on Thursday and celebrated as the autocrat who ruled Egypt with an iron fist for 30 years was taken to the hospital while Hosni Mubarak’s opponents also rallied on Friday to denounce his release.
“Hosni Mubarak had the chance to turn Egypt into Singapore or Indonesia with all the foreign aid that exceeded what Europe got in the Marshall Plan ... Egypt had no external war and instead of using these golden opportunities, Hosni Mubarak wasted them,” Dr. Sadek said.
At a time where the location of Morsi is still unknown and the state is not only arresting his top aides but also their sons, Hosni Mubarak was flown in a helicopter to his hearing on Sunday, in his usual training suit and with his hair carefully dyed and eyes covered in shades.
“The verdict that we respect and abide