of their campaign to undercut any sense of a normal, orderly world, the liberals at the
continually publish disturbing, unsettling, even freaky photographs along with their articles, often highlighting them at the top of the front page. Today they hit the jackpot, without having to create the photo themselves. Egyptian television provided them with this
In addition to the horrid looking bars of the cage, which looks like a cage for an animal not a man, notice how only Mubarak’s head shows, and the rest of him is shrouded and surrounded in some kind of white cloth, evidently the sheets of his hospital bed in which he was brought into the courtroom, adding to the creepy, dehumanized strangeness of the photograph.
And now consider the political lesson. “We” (meaning Obama) pushed our long time ally Mubarak out of power, and now look at the condition to which he’s been reduced. At the same time, “we” don’t dare touch our actual enemies. After this, any Muslim leader who befriends “us” would have to be crazy.
August 3, 2011
In Arab World First, Mubarak Stands Trial in Egypt
By ANTHONY SHADID
CAIRO—An ailing Hosni Mubarak, who served longer than any ruler of modern Egypt until he was overthrown in a revolution in February, was rolled into a courtroom in a hospital bed on Wednesday and charged with corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters. The trial was a seminal moment for Egypt and an Arab world roiled by revolt.
Even the most ardent in calling for his prosecution doubted until hours before the trial began that Mr. Mubarak, 83, would appear, a reflection of the suspicion and unease that reigns here. As a helicopter ferried him to the courtroom, housed in a police academy that once bore his name, cheers went up from a crowd gathered outside.
“The criminal is coming!” shouted Maged Wahba, a 40-year-old lawyer.
The sheer symbolism of the day made it one of the most visceral episodes in modern Arab history. In a region whose destiny was so long determined by rulers who deemed their people unfit to rule, one of those rulers was being tried by his public. On this day, the aura of power—uncontested and distant—was made mundane, and Mr. Mubarak, the former president, dressed in white and bearing a look some read as disdain, was humbled.
“The first defendant, Mohammed Hosni al-Sayyid Mubarak,” the judge, Ahmed Rifaat, said, speaking in a wood-paneled courtroom to a cage holding Mr. Mubarak, his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, former Interior Minister Habib e-Adly and six other senior officers.
“Sir, I am present,” Mr. Mubarak replied into a microphone, from his bed.
“You heard the charges that the prosecutor made against you,” the judge said from the podium. “What do you say?”
“I deny all these accusations completely,” he replied, wearily waving his hand.
Then he handed the microphone to his son, Gamal.
The trial began precisely at its start time, 10 a.m. While the other defendants took a seat, Mr. Mubarak’s sons remained standing, the youngest, Gamal, seeming to block the view of his father from the cameras in the courtroom. Mr. Mubarak appeared tired but alert, occasionally speaking with his sons, who both held Korans.
As Mr. Mubarak denied the charges in the proceedings, which were broadcast on a large-screen television outside the police academy, his opponents gathered there roared in disapproval.
“Then who did it?” some asked.
The scene was tumultuous there on a sun-drenched parking lot, with a few dozen of Mr. Mubarak’s supporters sharing space with his opponents. At times, they scuffled; in intermittent clashes, the two sides threw rocks at each other. As Mr. Mubarak arrived at the courtroom, some of his supporters cried, waving pictures that read, “The insult to Mubarak is an insult to all honorable Egyptians.” Others shouted adulation at the screen.
“We love you, Mr. President,” some chanted.
Those sentiments were overwhelmed by the denunciations of his critics, in a trial that seemed to incarnate all the frustrations and degradations of a state that treated its people as rabble. Someone was finally being held to account, many said Wednesday.
“Today is a triumph over 30 years of tragedy,” said Fathi Farouk, a 50-year-old pharmacist who brought his family to watch the trial outside the academy. “We suffered for 30 years, and today is our a victory. It’s a victory for the Egyptian people.”
The trial has transfixed a turbulent Arab world, where uprisings have shaken the rule of autocrats and authoritarian rule in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. Some Arab officials have said the very spectacle of the trial—a president and his family, along with his retinue of officials facing charges—would make those leaders all the more reluctant to step down. On the very day Mr. Mubarak’s trial began, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria escalated his own crackdown on a city at the heart of the uprising against him.
But many gathered here said Arabs should take the opposite lesson from the proceedings. “All of the Arab world has to know that any leader who makes his people suffer will face this fate,” Mr. Farouk said. “From today, history will never be the same.”
The appearance of Mr. Mubarak was his first since he stepped down on Feb. 11 after an 18-day uprising that brought hundreds of thousands into Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. Since April, when he faced charges, he has resided in a hospital in the Sinai resort of Sharm el Sheik, a favorite retreat during his time in power.
Mr. Mubarak’s health has remained an issue in the proceedings. There were reports that he had stopped eating, entered a coma and become depressed, but Egypt’s health minister said the former president was well enough to make the trip to the police academy in the capital.
Only the 600 people with permits were allowed inside the courtroom, along with civil rights lawyers and a small number of the families of protesters killed in the uprising.
As late as Wednesday morning, there was speculation that Mr. Mubarak would not appear, given the remarkable humiliation that the trial represented.
The military council of 19 generals that has led Egypt since the revolution seemed loath to put one of their own—their former commander, no less—in a courtroom; in fact, many speculated that the council hoped he might die before the date arrived. Frustration has grown lately at the military council, whose decisions are opaque and occasionally incoherent at a time that Egypt feels unmoored, and some people believed that the threat of even more protests had forced the military’s hand.
“This trial is going to end a lot of our problems and restore the trust between the revolutionaries and the military council,” said Ahmed Gamal, a 65-year-old retiree, who planned to watch the trial from beginning to end. “This is the most important thing.”
Much of the trial was occupied by procedural matters, but even that came as a surprise, as many expected a quick adjournment. Mr. Mubarak and his sons were not even read their charges until the trial’s second hour, after a brief recess. Wednesday’s sessions lasted about four hours and was then adjourned until Aug. 15.
The judge promised speedy proceedings, though no one seemed to know whether that meant weeks, months or longer. Egyptian officials said Mr. Mubarak would remain in the capital for the duration of the trial, staying at a hospital on Cairo’s outskirts. Mr. Mubarak, the former interior minister and the six officers are charged in connection with killing protesters. The charges can carry the death penalty. Mr. Mubarak and his sons also face charges of corruption, though the accusations—that they received five villas to help a businessman buy state land at a cheaper price—paled before some of the more epic cases of corruption in a country riddled with patronage and misrule.
But the spectacle of the trial seemed to matter more than the charges.
As a headline in a popular Egyptian newspaper read: “The Day of Judgment.”
Ed H. writes: