Mubarak, symbol of dashed hopes, goes free

2017-03-24 20:33

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - In six years, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak has gone from symbolising the hubris of Middle East dictators swept away by the Arab Spring uprisings to an emblem of dashed hopes.

The strongman who ruled for 30 years had warned that if it were not for him chaos would grip Egypt.

To the dismay of protesters who put their faith in the revolution, Mubarak left a miliary hospital on Friday where he had been detained since his 2011 ouster to a country where many now remember his stable rule with nostalgia.

Mubarak had remained defiant since his ouster, sneering at the movement that in a mere 18 days in January and February 2011 shook the foundations of the venal police state he sculpted over three decades.

Months after he was forced from power, Mubarak was placed on trial for his role in trying to quash the protests that led to his overthrow, and in which some 850 people were killed.

Wheeled in to court on a gurney, wearing his trademark sunglasses and looking disgusted, Mubarak denied the charges. He was later sentenced to life in prison.

"When I heard the first verdict I laughed. I said: 'Ha!'," he told a private broadcaster after the sentencing.

"I did nothing wrong at all," he said.

 'The laughing cow' 

Apparently referring to economic growth, he said: "The last 10 years showed more results than the 20 years before, including telephones and so on, and then they turned against us."

At a retrial, the court decided to drop the main charges against Mubarak on a technicality.

He beat other cases too, but was sentenced to three years for corruption, which took into account time served.

This month, after a final acquittal in the protester killing case, the prosecution said he was free to go.

A few protesters who supported the strongman would show up at his trials. Their slogan: "We are sorry president." Many laughed at them.

But over the years the sentiment grew as Egypt tottered from one disaster to another while Islamists who came to power contested its levers with the military and police.

The Islamists Mubarak had warned about, in the form of his successor Mohamed Morsi, greatly divided the country.

Millions took to the streets in June 2013 demanding the Muslim Brotherhood politician's resignation just a year after his election, prompting the army to oust and detain him.

Police killed hundreds of Morsi's supporters in clashes at protests while jihadists launched an insurgency that has since killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen.

Many Egyptians began to yearn for the banality of Mubarak's era, while activists who spearheaded his ouster found themselves in jail.

Mubarak was the fourth president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, founded in 1952 when the military overthrew the monarchy.

He was neither an inspirational revolutionary like Gamal Abdel Nasser, nor a charismatic and daring politician like Anwar Sadat, whom he served as vice president before Sadat's assassination in 1981 by jihadists.

Born on May 4, 1928 in the Nile Delta village of Menufiyah, Mubarak rose through the ranks of the air force before becoming vice president.

A bland politician, he inspired little veneration, instead earning the moniker "The Laughing Cow" after the mascot of a processed cheese brand.

As his reign stretched on, he became known to the opposition as "The Pharaoh".

 'Let them have fun' 

But he did prove to be an adept politician, picking up where Sadat had left off.

He maintained a peace treaty with Israel - the reason Sadat was assassinated - and became a main player in the US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace process more than a decade later.

Even as Egypt's population boomed during the Mubarak era, the Arab world's most populous country -- also its one-time intellectual and cultural core - faded as a regional power.

Both governance and the economy were greased by patronage and corruption. Mediocrity, half measures and rights abuses were the hallmarks of his rule.

During the 2000s, change came to Egypt. Slowly, under the direction of his unpopular son Gamal, the government began a programme of economic liberalisation.

At the same time, and largely in response to US pressure, Mubarak began to ease his grasp of political life.

"Let them have fun," he said of his opposition.

Read more on:    mohammed morsi  |  hosni mubarak  |  egypt  |  north africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


10 best dressed men of 2017

And the awards for 2017's best dressed gentlemen go to...


You won't want to miss...

How to open a beer bottle without an opener
WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…
WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.