Thursday, 4 August 2011

Egypt: Hosni Mubarak's trial is an extraordinary event

Hosni Mubarak's trial is an extraordinary event in the modern history of Egypt and the Arab world. There are no parallels or precedents of a deposed leader being tried by his own people in such a way. In a region where the rule of law has been so absent and those in authority are not held to account, this is a breathtaking development.

It is also uncertain. Many in the military must have considerable misgivings about what is happening to their former commander in chief. They must also be watching proceedings with a sense of foreboding about what might emerge in the course of the trial.

And many outside the chattering classes in Cairo will also view the public humiliation of their leader with considerable anger. For many in the rural heartlands, not only was Mubarak their leader but also their guarantor of a degree of stability that is now gone.

The trial of the former president is about coming to terms with Egypt's past, or some episodes from it. The demonstrations on 29th July were altogether different and were a sign, an ominous one in the view of many secularists and liberals, of the possible future character of the state.

The early protests that concluded with the removal of the former president were led by youth movements. But it is the Islamists who have the organisational strength and ideological unity — despite some differences — to make a serious challenge for power in the new Egypt.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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