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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Tribunal or Shadow Play?

by Jean-Paul Piérot

Tribunal or Shadow Play?

Translated Thursday 11 August 2011, by Marie-Thérèse Slorach and reviewed by Bill Scoble

It was meant to be a strong image. Yesterday, former president Hosni Mubarak made a reappearance, laid out on a stretcher for the start of his trial. The Egyptians hunting down the dreaded autocrat discovered an old, bedridden man who fled Cairo on February 11th, during the uprising in Tahrir Square — a man now inspiring more compassion than anger. Everything played out as if the authorities in Cairo wanted to highlight the fact that the fallen leader was unable to handle a large crowd for his trial, a trial regulated by its own rules and not those of a political system controlled by a military hierarchy. In spite of his eminent position as Head of State for 30 years, the “Pharaoh”, was not in fact the “primus inter pares”, but rather a ruler within a military class shaped and upheld by the United States ever since the reign of Anwar el Sadat, and an obliging representative of the Israeli government.

The charges weighing upon the accused are heavy. As well as the bloody repression of the rebellion, with official figures reaching more than 800 deaths, the charges also deal with the “Pharaoh’s” monopoly of the wealth, which he distributed amongst a variety of accounts in non-discriminating and discreet financing places. Corruption, siphoning off illicit resources, all taking place in a time of widespread poverty, where generations of young people were unable to find an outlet to exercise their abilities and make the most of their country and education. If it had been only those in power affected by the consequences, Egypt would soon have placed the guilty party back under lock and key. And yet, everything Mubarak has been reproached for has been carried out throughout the arbitrary State, under the guise of citizen control. Furthermore, democratic demand is at the heart of the popular uprising which is revolutionary in essence, but is yet to become a revolution.

So is this an incomplete revolution or revolution appropriated by others? History is being made right before our eyes. When the current leader of a country is the former Minister of Defense of a fallen dictator and the army is expelling the democratic youth from Tahrir, resulting in the Muslims seizing control of the area, the progressive opposition has every right to sound the alarm. Despite having no desire for a thorough evaluation of the predatory and dictatorial regime, the military in power are allowing the Islamists the opportunity to assert their position in society today, a position which was refused to them by the Popular Movement. Without doubt however, Mubarak’s heirs prefer to rouse the spectre of political Islamism, allowing democracy and modernity to dictate Egypt’s future. And yet a truly democratic Egypt cannot exist without influencing other countries in the surrounding area, notably Syria, whose own political system is not dissimilar to a regime led by the dominant party, with links to Egypt’s army.

This is why the Mubarak trial has stirred up so much tension amongst those in power, as well as so much concern in the democratic revolutionary camp. The court, which is based in the police academy, risks becoming nothing more than shadow-play, a sham, something which can be refuted only if the people are made to understand the power of their voice in demanding justice. It is not enough to judge a despot: we must also judge the regime which allowed him to advance.

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