A Caged Mubarak in the Dock

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Defense attorneys have already made it clear that they will slow the proceedings to a crawl. They want to call more than 1,000 witnesses, including Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi, who is current head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Mubarak’s lawyers claim that Tantawi was in charge of security after January 28, which is when most of the deaths occurred.

That line of argumentation will probably fall on deaf ears with the Egyptian people. They endured 30 years of Mubarak’s brutality and corruption. Not only were Egyptians oppressed by the dictator politically, but the economic life of the country was stunted by his cronyism, handing the directorships of companies to his friends in the military, while denying economic opportunities to ordinary people by decreeing monopolies and steering government contracts away from rivals. Most Egyptians would agree that no fate that befalls Hosni Mubarak would be too horrible.

But after all that is said and the justice system has its way with him, exactly what is it that the Egyptian people will have won? Will they trade a somewhat secular dictator for the religious oppression guaranteed by the Islamists? One woman, upon seeing the hundreds of thousands of extremists demonstrating in Tahrir Square last week, said, “I think I will have to leave Egypt.” Despite the airy assurances of President Obama and other Western leaders in the immediate aftermath of the overthrow of Mubarak that Egypt was on the way to “democracy,” the facts on the ground are far murkier and, in fact, threaten the kind of scenario that was brushed aside by the US State Department as unrealistic just a few short months ago.

No one knows precisely how much support the Muslim Brotherhood and its Salafist allies might get in the upcoming elections. The estimate that the Salafists make up only 10-20% of the population seems low when contemplating the results of a Pew poll from April of this year. Some of the results from that survey are extremely disturbing. Pew found that 54% of Egyptians want to end the peace treaty with Israel. Another 62% support the imposition of Sharia law on the country. Also, 18% say they will support the Muslim Brotherhood in the elections, the second highest total for any party. A previous Pew poll from last December shows widespread support for traditional Islamic punishments such as lopping off hands for thievery and stoning for adultery.

That same poll revealed that almost half the country had a favorable opinion of Hamas. Indeed, since the SCAF took power, the flow of guns into Gaza has increased, as one of the first major acts of the new government was to open the border crossing of Rafah.

What these surveys appear to show is that support for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist extremists is wider, deeper, and stronger than anyone assumed when Mubarak was kicked out of power last February. And while the trial of Hosni Mubarak may give a lot of satisfaction and act as an emotional catalyst for most Egyptians, it may also symbolically usher in a new, darker chapter in Egypt’s history — one that not only threatens to destroy any hope for real democracy, but also threatens Israel and Egypt’s neighbors with the worst kind of Islamic extremism and oppression.

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  • ze-ev ben jehudah

    Well the muslim brotherhoods have won and soon the sharia will
    be implemented,and that litlebit of freedom goes underground for the
    coming 100 years. The West will follow in England there now are area's
    where sharia law rules Brittania.And by the way;Mr Barack Hussein Obama!!
    go home leave the oval office to competent men/or woman.

  • Cuban Refugee

    Yes, the fall of the Egyptian president foreshadows something much worse, and Egyptians soon will begin to realize that the savior they beckoned to come through their gates will make the corrupt and brutal Mubarak appear like a saint by comparison. A sense of foreboding chilled my body as I read your excellent piece, and thought about all the other countries falling through mob madness in a global version of the French Revolution. Dickens could have been referring to the current state of our world: "the worst of times … the age of foolishness … the season of darkness … the winter of our despair … the epoch of incredulity … we have nothing before us … and are going direct to hell."

  • MBA NJ

    When told as a youth that Life Is Not Fair, I did not envision that an uninformed citizen who doesn't care anything about his country other than what he can get for the moment, can absolutely negate those thinking and caring citizens who are trying to make a culture that is enduring and fair. Hence, like the cartoonists have often suggested, we are our own worst enemy…..this is not in praise of any former leaders but rather a cautionary comment that the devil known may be better than those lurking to do more evil as witnessed by most of Africa's history and regime track record.

  • The concerned

    Mr. Carter abandend the Shah of Iran, and gave the contry to Islamist, and by now you know the outcome. Mr. Obama abondend Hosni Mobarak of Egept, and the Islamist are taking over the contry creating a larger Iran in Africa. for G-D sake when we are going to open our eyes and learn.

  • digdigby

    All the savvy businessmen (steeped in corruption as they HAD to be to do business in Mubarak's Egypt) are fleeing with their money before THEY are in the docket and so Egypt is bleeding money. 1) Egypt has no oil to export 2) Egypt imports half its food 3) Egypt's vital tourism trade is dead in the water and will remain that way a long, long time. Many predict riots and starvation within the year.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    So Mubarak is in the can and all of his Billions are not seeming to do him any
    good. He was in his seaside villa and now seemingly sold out by his military. It
    may all be a show and the finale could be something of a let down or somehting
    no one could ever have predicted. No matter what happens the cage he is in
    with his sons looks utilitarian and fitting, how can we get first dibs on it for our
    own use, I can see Obama, Pelosi and Reid amongst others honoring it's walls
    at a trial I see as building and eminent, I hope…………………………….William

  • Dispozadaburka

    Good article.
    About time.

  • mcrobbins

    It has been reported that Israel offered Mubarak assylum. I guess that country doesn't throw its allies under a bus. That can't be said for the Obama administration.

  • LindaRivera

    U.S. leaders worked behind the scenes for three years to oust U.S. ally, moderate Mubarak, and bring to power their favorites, the Muslim Brotherhood. This American action destabilized Egypt and caused destabilization of other Middle Eastern countries. This clearly was the American goal.

    The Telegraph
    Egypt protests: America's secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising
    The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

  • LindaRivera

    After the American betrayal of U.S. ally, moderate Mubarak, and Mubarak's ouster, the situation for Egypt's Coptic Christians has turned into a complete nightmare. Things were bad before. Now, they are desperate. Attacks on Christians; attacks and destruction of churches, Christian homes, and Christian property has greatly increased. And the kidnappings of Egyptian Christian female children by Muslim males has also greatly increased. ALL of which was completely predictable. THERE IS NO ONE TO HELP THE CHRISTIANS.

    • DePalm

      They should become our main population of immigrants for the next twenty years.

      • LindaRivera

        It is EXTREMELY difficult for Egypt's Christians to emigrate to the U.S. The American Embassy is packed with Muslim employees.

        At a protest in New York City demonstrating against Muslim persecution and murder of Christians in Egypt (where they chanted: "Why, why, must we die"),; A Christian Copt told me he had tried three times here in America to get papers to stay in America and each time he was turned down. U.S. authorities are not pro-Christian. They are pro-Islamic.

  • LindaRivera

    The new Egypt:

    2 million Egyptians in Tahrir Square chant "To Jerusalem we are heading, Martyrs in the millions." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du5emnvGgvg&fe

  • LindaRivera

    The new Egypt. And they have just begun.

    Egyptian protesters promise to destroy Israel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWcKewmyh_o&fe

    • Dispozadaburka

      Sorry Linda,
      Your You Tube is no longer available.
      Thanks anyway.

  • WildJew

    This is very sad to see how Obama has abandoned a US ally for Muslim extremists.

  • FriendofGaryCooper

    And let''s not forget about Libya. Why was there suddenly a "rebellion" in Libya?
    Because Ghadaffi, at the behest of the Bush Administration, cancelled his nuclear
    program, and gave the names of Libyan Al-Qaeda operatives to the CIA. Although
    Ghadaffi is a brutal tyrant and responsible for the Lockerbie bombing; he may have
    realized that those running the Islamist takeover agenda are no friends of his. This is
    why Obama supports the Libyan "rebels."