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An Egyptian farce plays out in court

December 31, 2018 at 10:22 am

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak (C, front), who was ousted following a popular uprisal in 2011, is escorted by his two sons Alaa (C, behind) and Gamal (L) as he testifies during a session in the retrial of members of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood over charges of plotting jailbreaks and attacks on police during the 2011 uprising, at a make-shift courthouse in southern Cairo on December 26, 2018. (Photo by MOHAMED EL-SHAHED / AFP / Getty Images)

It seems that 2018 refuses to leave without witnessing one last absurd scene from the tragedy playing in Egypt since the 2013military coup. This play has had several scenes and different acts, but they can all be described as farcical. The latest is arguably the most absurd, as a president elected by the people, representing the 2011 January Revolution that overthrew the tyrant Hosni Mubarak, is behind bars and being tried in a ridiculous case. To make the plot even more ridiculous, the corrupt tyrant Mubarak, whose people rose against him in a great revolution witnessed by the whole world, is actually testifying against the subsequently, freely and fairly elected President, Mohamed Morsi.

It is a type of tragedy unique to Egypt; a tragic farce that even a playwright couldn’t have come up with. It is a scene that summarises the unbelievable events in modern Egyptian history. The Arab poet Al-Mutanabbi spoke the truth when he said, “Many amusing events occur in Egypt, but the laughter there can resemble crying.”

The deposed former President Mubarak entered the courtroom on his feet looking ecstatic. It was the same courtroom where he stood trial six years ago, although then he entered it on a hospital bed hooked up to an IV drip. He hid behind a big pair of dark glasses so that no one would see the humiliation in his eyes. This time, he did not need the glasses, as he wants the whole world to see the euphoria there instead; he did not need to appear deliberately in a humiliating manner in order to appeal to the people and gain their sympathy, as he did six years ago.

He entered the courtroom accompanied by his two sons, who were one of the reasons for his overthrow, as they were corrupt; the people rose up in part to prevent Mubarak’s son Gamal from inheriting the presidency. Mubarak was welcomed warmly and respectfully by the judge, who was grateful to the ex-dictator for appointing him to the judiciary. This was the golden opportunity for Mubarak to seek revenge for the 25 January Revolution, distort it, call it a conspiracy and foreign plot, and to declare victory over those who overthrew him. The scene summarised the whole absurd play that laid the great revolution to rest and paved the way for the despicable 30 June coup.

READ: Hamas denies Mubarak’s testimony on Egypt jailbreak 

This very old man — Mubarak is more than 90 — refused to spend the life he has left in repentance to God and showing remorse for his crimes against the Egyptian people. Instead, he insisted on giving a false testimony to the court, which made the scene even more absurd and farcical.

According to the former dictator, we have to imagine 800 armed Hamas and Hezbollah members infiltrating the eastern border of Egypt through tunnels, with their vehicles and weapons, before breaking into and burning police stations, and killing soldiers and their officers. Then, according to Mubarak’s fantasy testimony, these armed men, with apparently superhuman powers, were not stopped by anyone and were able to drive 600 kilometres across Egypt to Wadi Natrun, without anyone daring to stop them, where they raided prisons without opposition. He also claimed that they killed more officers and soldiers there, freed the prisoners, and took those who were associated with Hamas and Hezbollah with them. Then they went triumphantly to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, climbed to the rooftops, pointed their guns at the unarmed protestors and opened fire on them. In Mubarak’s narrative, they then went back to the border and Gaza, 348 kilometres from Cairo, safely and without any of them being wounded or killed, despite the presence of the Egyptian army and border patrol, as well as officers from general intelligence and the police.

The story is absurd and unbelievable, even to a child. It insults our intelligence and is not worthy of anyone but the person who dreamt it up.

Where were the soldiers, police officers and intelligence agents when all of this was happening? How could these armed militants infiltrate the border and make it all the way to Cairo without being spotted and apprehended? Didn’t Mubarak realise that his testimony condemns his own term as president and embarrasses the army that was unable to protect Egypt from 800 armed individuals? If that is what really happened, then why aren’t the officers in charge of security on Egypt’s eastern border not on trial?

Egypt: Beltagy questions Mubarak in court 

Everyone knows that the person who opened the gates of all the prisons, not just Wadi Natrun — the example for which President Mohamed Morsi is being tried — was actually Habib El-Adly, the former Minister of the Interior. He did so in order to create chaos in the country and try to strike fear in the hearts of the Egyptian people in order to push them to abandon their revolution. This was the alternative plan in the event that a revolution broke out, as approved during the Arab interior ministers’ meeting in Tunisia in 2010. Many police officers admitted in television interviews after the January Revolution that orders were issued by senior prison officials to open the gates. Videos of these interviews are still available on YouTube. They also said that when General Mohamed Al-Batran, head of the prison investigations department, refused to execute the orders and so prevented the escape of prisoners from Fayoum Prison, he was shot and killed immediately. Moreover, Dr Mostafa El-Feki, former secretary to Mubarak and current director of the New Alexandria Library, said in a television interview that the plan to open the prisons was prepared in the event that Gamal Mubarak was handed the presidency and the people rebelled against him.

The timing of Dr Morsi’s trial hearing was not coincidental; it was carefully planned to take place at the end of the year, before the revolutionary gusts of January’s winds are upon us and we recall the revolution as it was. The intention was to prevent those who want to regain control of the revolution from those who stole it and to revive it in the hearts of the people. The corrupt media mouthpieces for the regime have already started promoting the claim that the January Revolution was a plot instead of a popular uprising.

Regardless of the fantasy propounded by Mubarak, did anyone really expect him to come up with anything different? He wants revenge and is not in the mood to tell the truth about the revolution that overthrew him. His testimony was an expression of the hatred and hostility that he has in his heart towards what happened in January 2011. Nevertheless, despite all the lies and efforts to distort the revolution, it will remain the greatest in the history of modern Egypt.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.