Few would disagree that the trial of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and the footage of him being wheeled into the courtroom cage was a historical moment for the people of Egypt and the rest of the Arab world.
Trials of Arab leaders by their people, free from any foreign intervention, are unheard of in the modern time. Saddam Hussein’s trial took place under the American occupation and with the help of US forces. His execution on a Muslim holiday had a sectarian overtone.
Former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s trial in absentia left many Tunisians, who had hoped to see their tyrant in the dock, disappointed. Many saw the trial as a mere attempt to appease public opinion.
Mubarak’s trial was a different one. There was little questioning the trial was a genuine attempt to restore the credibility of the justice system and a result of progress towards democracy and accountability at all levels of the government.
One may disagree on whether the trial was conducted with dignity or not. Some would say putting a sick man in a courtroom cage is humiliating to a human being. Certainly the trial of Mubarak could have been conducted differently in a way it would not appear like a circus.
But in a climate of faltering distrust between Egyptians and their military rulers one could understand the reasons for the live broadcast of Mubarak’s trial.