Fareed Al-Deeb, lawyer for the deposed and imprisoned former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, quoted his client as saying: “They want to kill me in prison. Save me, Mr. Fareed.”
Is it possible that someone might want to kill Mubarak after he has been convicted by the court? Can the living Mubarak constitute a threat to anyone now that he is behind bars and his life sentence puts him, like any other inmates, to continuous surveillance and restrictions on visits except by very close relatives? The prison restrictions also prevent him from publishing his memoirs or sending messages before they are scrutinized.
Despite this, it is in the interest of some people that Mubarak disappears from the scene, so that his entire political legacy is gone and Egypt can move toward a new era in history. Some people want to see him dead, so that the demonstrations and confrontations between the families of the martyrs and the supporters of the old regime can stop. Some people want to get rid of him out of vengeance.
Who is the stupid guy, who would want to get rid of a man who was already dead even before the revolution? Mubarak was not active during the last years of his rule because of cancer treatment he had received in Germany. His photo with President Barack Obama showed it. He could only receive his guest at his palace in Al-Quba district. It was obvious that the picture was cut because of Mubarak’s inability to move. His face was telling it all.
Mubarak disappeared from the scene as a result of depression he had suffered following the death of his 13-year-old grandchild Muhammad Ala Mubarak. Much was said during this time about his wife Suzanne and his ambitious son Jamal purporting to run the country’s affairs with some of their close aides in the presidency. It was certain that Mubarak did not practically rule since June 2009.
The weakness of the regime was attributed to the weakness of the president himself whose men, not the government, were running the affairs of the state. Differences among them were known to those who were dealing closely with Cairo and were also obvious during the revolution and at the court hearings in which Mubarak and some of his close aides were convicted.
No evidence was presented in the court to show that Mubarak was active during the conflict between the regime and the revolutionists. All that was said against Mubarak was that he had been seen giving orders from a helicopter. This remains to be only street gossip. The man was so sick to be involved in such difficult activities. Even the general attorney who called for capital punishment for Mubarak said he was aware that Mubarak did not give any instructions to kill anyone, but he was held responsible in his capacity as the supreme commander who was in charge of the affairs of the country.
Mubarak is clinically finished as a man and as a president with the end of his rule. I believe that his guards and doctors were concerned about his safety not out of love for him but out of fear that his death at this time might make many people think that he was killed in prison.
The fear of being labeled as against the revolution made a number of people shy away from expressing their views about Mubarak and his rule, as many would not dare to criticize his regime. For this reason, nobody dares to criticize the life sentence given to him despite the weakness of the evidence. As Mubarak is fighting death, no rule against him by the court would actually make any difference whether it was life sentence or death. But for a man like him, the very conviction was a death sentence, because it would make him a criminal and not just a ruler on whose history people might differ.
Is Mubarak worse than his two predecessors Jamal Abdul Nasser and Anwar Al-Sadat? This question is for historians, political analysts and ordinary people to answer after the wounds of the revolution are healed and the political accounts settled. Personally I think Mubarak’s gravest crimes were not the ones for which he was condemned; his worst sin was that he was a stupid ruler with no skills to manage a country as big as Egypt.
He could have made the change toward democracy. He could have been a charismatic leader. It was his duty to take Egypt into a civilization project, as did the leaders of Malaysia, Turkey, Indonesia and South Korea. Mubarak did not do so because he became a president only due to his military seniority. He had no experience or political acumen to run a state and change the course of history.
(The writer is General Manager of Al Arabiya. This article was first published in Arab News on June 13, 2012.)