Acquitting Mubarak, indicting the revolution

Acquitting Mubarak, indicting the revolution
4 min read
02 Dec, 2014
Hosni Mubarak's appeal victory insults the memories of those who died in the revolution which ousted him.
The verdict acquitting Mubarak led to protests in cities across Egypt [Anadolu]

The acquittal of Hosni Mubarak, who had been accused of conspiring to kill protesters, stabs not only at the hearts of the families of murdered and tortured victims, but also wounds the hearts of millions of the oppressed and marginalised across the Arab world.

This is the counter-revolution in action. It has been slowly legitimised, consolidated and crowned as the victor - albeit in the short term - by ruthlessly crushing the voices of freedom and justice.

Oppressive acts can only be deemed unoppressive if the oppressor is later exonerated. A new oppressor was therefore needed to legitimise the acts of his predecessor.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's military coup was what was required to criminalise the revolutionaries and safeguard the interests of the old regime. If this was not clear in the past, it has become crystal clear today.

No surprises

This is not only an acquittal of Mubarak, but rather a proclamation of innocence for Sisi and his circle. As such, the court decision came as no surprise, for those who committed the Rabaa al-Adawiya massacre under the pretext of "eliminating religious extremism" see no crime or shame in the record of the Mubarak regime.

     Those who committed the Rabaa al-Adawiya massacre... see no crime or shame in the record of the Mubarak regime.

If anything, the new regime under Sisi's watch has far surpassed the Mubarak era, as if the two tyrants were locked into a murderous race. Sisi is ahead both in the number of crimes and the audacity in committing them in broad daylight, in front of TV cameras and eyewitnesses.

Hail to the thief

But there is no room for nostalgia for the Mubarak years, despite the fact that many are now lamenting the end of his era. What we are witnessing is the revenge of the old tyrannical regime against a revolution that threatened its interests and undermined its grip.

Authoritarian regimes sometimes wear velvet gloves and the disguise of the benevolent dictator. However, the counter-revolution needs to keep its teeth sharp and bared because Egypt's rulers want to reinstate the barrier of fear that was destroyed in the Arab revolutions.

But beware, Sisi will once again attempt to wear the cloak of the revolution to absorb popular anger. Sure enough a presidential statement on Sunday night instructed compensation to be paid to the families of the victims, and shamelessly proclaimed that Sisi was committed to building a modern state based on justice and equality for all citizens.

The declaration was a thinly veiled attempt to absolve himself of any responsibility for the acquittal of Mubarak, citing the independence of the judiciary.

Knives out

Sisi continues to sabotage the revolution while claiming to protect it, drawing legitimacy from the elections as if his victory gave him absolute and unquestionable authority.

Elections, in this case, cease to be an exercise of people's will and choice and has become a vehicle to legitimise tyranny and oppression, placing Sisi above question and scrutiny.

     The counter-revolution came dressed in the garb of enlightened secularism... and fighting the war against the forces of darkness.

Sisi, like many Arab leaders, uses the fears of the Arab people both of armed groups and the international intervention forces that band together against them to justify his measures.

Fear of extremism has silenced millions of freedom-seeking Arabs, while the United States' priorities of "fighting terror" and protecting Israel - which Sisi serves brilliantly - have consolidated all Arab regimes.

That has left Cairo with the freedom to cunningly subdue popular anger and silence dissent, undeterred and unobstructed by either internal or external powers - at least in the foreseeable term.

House of cards

Sisi's confidence that he will not be challenged is not baseless, but comes from a popular mandate - be it the  "mandate" to use force against Muslim Brotherhood protests or the "mandate" granted through the ballot boxes in a particularly hard-fought election.

The counter-revolution came dressed in the garb of enlightened secularism, preserving the state, and fighting the war against the forces of darkness. It was morally and intellectually legitimised by many Egyptian and Arab thinkers who saw Sisi as the saviour knight slaying the dragon.

It is high time that these "thinkers" strip Sisi of his moral and intellectual cover - unless their callousness is such that the tears of Khaled Saeed's mother and the relatives of Sisi's thousands of victims don't make them feel as though they were co-conspirators in the regime's crime. To them I say: the choice is yours.

Lamis Andoni is editor-in-chief of al-Araby al-Jadeed's English edition.

A version of this article was previously published in our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.