In Egypt, a small but vocal minority still supports the fallen dictator
CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s revolutionaries received a crucial bit of closure earlier this month when Egypt’s ailing ex-president, 83-year-old Hosni Mubarak, was wheeled inside the caged dock of a Cairo courtroom, clad in a white prison jumpsuit.
The televised images of Mubarak, as shocking and surreal as they were, offered many Egyptians a glimmer of hope that justice would finally prevail after the bloodshed of the January 25 uprising and three decades of repressive rule.
Not everyone, however, was cheering.
Outside the court, hundreds of Mubarak allies chanted and waived placards of support before and during his trial, which opened on Aug. 3 and met for a second session on Aug. 15.
These ardent supporters of the former president — the self-described “sons of Mubarak” — hope to spare their former president from the humiliation of detention and intense scrutiny of a public trial.
His most vocal backers may be in the minority these days — depending on who you ask — but they are unwavering, both online and on the street, in their conviction that Mubarak, who is under detention in a Cairo hospital until his next court date, is a national hero who led the Arab world’s most populous nation to 30 years of peace, prosperity and stability.
“We traded our national security for political corruption and economic chaos,” said Yousry Abdel Razik, a lawyer who attended the recent proceedings. “This was no revolution. Revolutions are supposed to make countries better, not worse.”
Abdel Razik recently signed on to give pro-bono legal aid to Mubarak’s defense team, which is led by veteran Egyptian lawyer Farid el-Deeb.
That harsh reality alone was enough to bring Abdel Razik, 35, to tears during the trial.
“The only other time I’ve cried in my lifetime was when my father died two years ago,” he said. “But I love Mubarak. He is my father too.”
On the west bank of the Nile River, a few dozen Mubarak supporters have set up a makeshift, Tahrir-like rallying point in a traffic circle. There, they occasionally meet to drink tea, discuss the latest news and reminisce about the old days.
They are angry that billboards carrying Mubarak’s once-ubiquitous image have been torn down, and that his name has been scrubbed from schools and subway station maps.
Most of them — men and a few women, young and old, rich and poor — are still dumbfounded by Mubarak’s ouster. They point fingers at various foreign elements, mostly the United States and Israel, as the ones responsible for his downfall.
They seemingly ignore the widespread criticism that frequently arose during Mubarak’s one-man rule — economic stagnancy, human rights abuses and corruption.
“My family and I never benefited at all from Mubarak, economically speaking,” said Karim Hussein, who grew up in a working class neighborhood near the Pyramids. “But I am proud to defend him even to this day.”
Hussein, a 22-year-old information technology graduate, seems a more likely candidate to join the youth activists who challenged Mubarak earlier this year.
But a day after thousands of young Egyptians descended on Cairo’s Tahrir Square on January 25, aided in part by the coordinated use of social media, Hussein launched his own Facebook page in support of Mubarak.
He said he was inspired to defend his president because he thought protesters were treating the elderly leader unfairly after so many years in power.
The Facebook group, translated as “We Are Sorry Mr. President,” organizes rallies and celebrates and defends Mubarak’s “achievements.” The page has attracted more than 100,000 fans to date, though Hussein admits some of those followers are hackers and naysayers.
In a troubling reversal, it is now these Egyptians, those that support Mubarak, who are on occasion the target of violence. They point to bandages, casts, scars and other battle wounds as signs that they have now become Egypt’s most marginalized minority.
Hassan Ghandour, a 30-year-old who claimed to be a former soldier in Mubarak’s presidential guard unit, unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a long, deep gash he received during clashes that erupted during Mubarak’s trial on Aug. 15.
Insults between the two opposing sides of protesters had escalated into an all out brawl, leaving dozens injured.
Ghandour denied that he or any of his comrades were “counter-revolutionaries” seeking to reinstall the former leader, as reform activists frequently claim.
“All of this chaos happening now is not from us,” Ghandour said. “It’s because of the revolution that burned and destroyed our country.”
Most of the “sons of Mubarak” believe their former president will soon have his legacy restored.
Abdel Razik, the volunteer lawyer, said he is confident that the former president will be exonerated within a few months.
At the very least, said a beaming Abdel Razik, the Egyptian public will no longer be able to watch live images of Mubarak in a cage — the judge ruled that the trial would no longer be televised.
More Related Stories
- Must-see morning clip: Barackalypse Now
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- Is Pope Francis an exorcist?
- Oklahoma death count confirmed at 24, 9 children
- Frantic parents search for children in tornado's wake
- Crews dig through rubble after deadly tornado
- 51 killed in massive Oklahoma tornado
- Don't cry climate-change wolf
- Record tornado devastates Oklahoma
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- Tornado reduces Oklahoma City suburb to rubble
- AP: Toll at least 37 dead in Okla. tornado
- Entire Midwest on tornado warning
- Oregon senator proposes appeal to Monsanto Protection Act
- Supreme Court to rule on prayer at government meetings
- Beltway scandal machine breaks, knows nothing about America
- Gitmo hunger striker launches Twitter campaign
- "Hero" cop, honored by Obama, accused of double rape
- Father of gay high school student arrested for dating classmate speaks out
- Pentagon adviser pushed Anthrax drug, which his firm produced
- Conservatives A-OK with closeted Boy Scouts
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11
Salon is proud to feature content from GlobalPost, an awarding-winning international news site that focuses on original reporting from journalists stationed around the world. GlobalPost combines traditional journalistic values with the power of new media to offer a fresh perspective on global developments.