When millions took to the streets of Egypt in January 2011, following in the footsteps of the revolution in Tunisia, many claimed that this would be the beginning of a new era for Egypt and the Middle East as a whole. The angry outcries against the dictatorship of Mubarak and his men echoed throughout the world and amassed support internationally. Thousands were killed calling out for Mubarak’s removal and many more injured. On the 11th February 2011 when Mubarak finally abdicated, the cheers of success and tears of joy resonated through the years of oppression, poverty and injustice millions had endured. Egyptians could finally hope for a democracy with justice, transparency and accountability as the cornerstone of a new fair society. Yet, three years later the same tyrant that inflicted a police state of terror throughout Egypt and ruled it with an iron fist for three decades, has been acquitted of all corruption charges, including the murder of the protestors. A court ruling today found Mubarak, his sons and some of his former men not guilty of many charges that have been filed against them since their government’s dissolution.
Egypt, which has experienced three years of political turmoil following the abdication of Mubarak and has been ruled by two presidents since, has gone full circle to its previous state of instability and repression – the very state that inspired the revolution of 2011. The revolution, which had stemmed from widespread discontent from decades of corrupt rule, finds itself nullified by the dissolution of the very same charges that sparked its life. Today, Egypt finds herself once again under the rule of a former military commander, Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, whose presidency many believe to be a carefully manoeuvred plan through the military’s overthrow of then President Morsi, elected a year after Mubarak’s removal. Sisi, as he is commonly referred to, has split opinions worldwide with many believing him to be the corrupt leader of a military coup, whilst masses in Egypt view him as the hero of their country who saved her from Islamists’ rule. Yet, what cannot be denied is that under Sisi’s new government and his carefully selected judges and ministers, Mubarak’s acquittal comes as no surprise to many. Mubarak and Sisi’s close relationship had tacitly pre-determined a lighter sentence for the ousted president, his sons and former men. Many ‘anti-coup’ supporters have cried out against the betrayal of the Egyptian population to their revolution through their support for another military ruler, whose ties they believe cannot be ignored in the hopeful view of a new political era for Egypt.
Many of Sisi’s decisions and actions in the last few months have sparked outrage worldwide including his relationship with Israel and his lack of support for the Palestinian people during their peril. Furthermore, his appointment of several ministers known to be favourable to the old regime has sharpened the harsh reality that Mubarak’s era never truly ended. The acquittal of Mubarak thus epitomises the arrogance of a regime, which unapologetically allows such an injustice to occur in the face of the very population that stood for weeks protesting against the corruption of Mubarak and died for his removal. For many, their anger and fear of an Islamist’s rule has diluted their discontent towards the military whom they believe to be their saviours against an unwanted Islamic state. For others, the recent years of unrest and instability has caused an aversion to further protests that will only augment Egypt’s troubled state.
It is no doubt that Mubarak’s acquittal of corruption charges has neutralised the essence of the very revolution that aimed to end such exploitation and instil a modern democratic and progressive Egypt. Perhaps, it is not a case of whether he was indeed guilty or not, but a case of the selective blindness the Egyptian judicial system applies under Sisi and his regime. The release of Mubarak et al demonstrates the lack of progress made since the Arab Spring erupted; it exonerates a dictator who perpetrated three decades of injustice and oppression against his people; it highlights the lack of justice, transparency and accountability of Sisi’s Egypt; and re-affirms that it is indeed Sisi’s Egypt, not the Egyptians’ Egypt.