Considering the circumstances, I would tell Egyptians: “be careful what you ask for“.
Many Egyptians never believed it possible. On Wednesday, ex-President Hosni Mubarak went on trial at the Cairo Police Academy which once bore his name. In the opening session, the former ruler pleaded “not guilty.”
Mubarak denied charges of murder and corruption which could carry the death penalty.
“All these charges, I deny them completely,” Mubarak said from his stretcher in the court room, contesting charges of fraud and of the premeditated murder of anti-regime protesters who toppled his regime.
Mubarak’s sons Alaa and Gamal as well his former interior minister Habib al-Adli and six former security aides, who are facing similar charges in the same trial, also pleaded not guilty.
As the session came to an end, the presiding judge adjourned the court until August 15. Judge Ahmed Rafaat ruled that Mubarak and his sons would be required to attend the next session.
In the meantime, the former strongman must be held in a hospital on the outskirts of Cairo where he could receive full medical treatment.
Tens of thousands of Egyptian Islamists poured into Tahrir Square on Friday calling for a state bound by strict religious law and delivering a persuasive show of force in a turbulent country showing deep divisions and growing signs of polarization (…). “Islamic, Islamic,” went a popular chant. “Neither secular nor liberal.”
Mobs of ordinary Egyptians joined with soldiers to drive pro-democracy protesters from their encampment in Tahrir Square here Monday, showing how far the uprising’s early heroes have fallen in the eyes of the public.
Six months after young, liberal activists helped lead the popular movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the hard core of these protesters was forcibly dispersed by the troops. Some Egyptians lined the street to applaud the army. Others ganged up on the activists as they retreated from the square that has come to symbolize the Arab Spring.
Squeezed between an assertive military and the country’s resurgent Islamist movement, many Internet-savvy, pro-democracy activists are finding it increasingly hard to remain relevant in a post-revolutionary Egypt that is struggling to overcome an economic crisis and restore law and order.
An exchange of harsh words on July 25 between Ruth, a Christian woman, and Gassem Fouad, a Muslim man who had parked his tricycle in front of her home, escalated into assault by the man on Ruth and other Christian villagers, and the arrest of one Copt. After Ruth, who is 5 months pregnant, was assaulted, a Muslim mob waited for Coptic farmers to return from the fields, where they were intercepted and beaten with iron rods and pipes.
Security forces managed to contain the situation.
Six Christians, including Ruth and her sister-in-law Hannan, were hospitalized with concussions, head injuries and broken limbs. No Muslim was injured.
None of the Muslim perpetrators was arrested.
Ruth’s husband, Kirillos Daniel, was accused of possessing a weapon — a rifle found thrown where the Christians were attacked, and is under detention.
In an interview on CTV Coptic TV, Father Estephanos Shehata, of the Samalout Coptic dioceses, said “The real reason behind this assault was the church bell, which has greatly angered the Muslims in the village.” He said the dilapidated church in the village of Ezbet Jacob Bebawi, outside Samalout, north of Minya, was given permission to renovate and this was completed last week, and the church bell was reinstalled.
Ongoing clashes between young supporters of the revolution and security forces are undermining the Egyptian military’s hold over the country as critics from all directions accuse the ruling Supreme Council of failing to manage the situation ahead of next November’s elections.
Yesterday, Major General Mohamed al-Assar, Egypt’s assistant defence minister and a top-ranking member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, met important international figures at a meeting in Washington. He reassured his interlocutors that the Egyptian military was not planning to set up another dictatorship.
According to Fr Greiche, spokesman of the Egyptian Catholic Church, the military is facing internal chaos and is incapable of running the country after the fall of Mubarak.
Clashes between demonstrators and police on Sunday in Abbasseya, in Cairo, left 298 people injured. Pro-democracy groups were outraged; they accuse the police of using knife and stick-wielding thugs to provoke the clashes in order to arrest demonstrators.
For the clergyman, the military is losing control of the situation. “The Supreme Council includes 17 top generals with different opinions and ideas what to do. This is leading to chaos,” he said. This has eroded the military’s credibility.
Whoever insults the Prophet (PBUH), if he later comes and apologizes, and kisses the shoes (of the ruler), and says, “I want all Muslims, every one, to return and strike me with the soles of their feet”—does the ruler have the right to accept this?
I bring up this question, as it was asked of me. The answer is that it is not permissible for anyone to accept this. Then what do we do with him? We kill him! But he told you that he repented. We still kill him, even if he repents!
He said all of this in the context of the current controversy in Egypt with the Christian businessman Naguib Sawiris, a billionaire and founder of the Free Egyptians Party. Late last month Sawiris tweeted a picture of Mickey Mouse wearing a Muslim beard and jilbab, and Minnie Mouse wearing a niqab, which was considered to be mocking Islam. Al-Huwayni did not say explicitly that Sawiris should be killed for mocking Islam, but did say that all of his companies should be boycotted, even if he only owns 10% share in the company.
Even when the Copts did not end up behind bars, they did not receive justice. State explained that the Mubarak government sponsored “informal reconciliation sessions” which “generally prevented the criminal prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against Copts, precluded their recourse to the judicial system for restitution, and contributed to a climate of impunity that encouraged further assaults.”
No surprise, failing to exact a penalty for murder and mayhem has led to more murder and mayhem — or what the Hudson Institute‘s Nina Shea called “pogroms and acts of terror.” The failure to punish the perpetrators, complained the Commission, “continued to foster a climate of impunity, making further violence likely.” Even more emphatic was Dina Guiguis of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who told a recent congressional hearing that “the Egyptian regime is fully responsible for creating the fertile ground on which pernicious and egregious sectarian violence has become routine.”
Unfortunately, those who hoped the Egyptian revolution would better protect Christians and other religious minorities have been disappointed. To the contrary, violent attacks on Copts have been increasing.
As of last month 24 Christians had been killed, more than 200 had been injured, and three churches had been destroyed. Muslim mobs have beset Coptic churches, businesses, and homes. Well-armed thugs also attacked Christians who were protesting against the forgoing attacks.
No surprise, then, that few perpetrators have been arrested, let alone imprisoned. Noted Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute: “as under Mubarak, the authorities’ refusal to punish attacks on Christians has led to more attacks.” The army even assaulted two Coptic monasteries, supposedly to enforce discriminatory zoning laws (which prohibited walls erected for protection from attacks).