The humbling of the pharoah
This morning, in Washington, I was transfixed by television images from the Middle East I thought I would never see. An Arab dictator on trial for his life in his own country. Hosni Mubarak lying on a bed inside a cage at the Cairo police academy where he denied charges of murder and corruption. His sons, Gamal and Alaa¸ standing next to him.
The received opinion in the West in recent days has been that nothing has changed in Egypt since the downfall of Mubarak in February, and that the revolution is unravelling. But it would be a disservice to the proud Egyptian people to let that impression stand.
We in the West, with our concentration span of five minutes, expect instant satisfaction. I want it, and I want it now. Out with the old, in with the new. The same principle has been applied to the Arab spring.
Of course change could have happened more quickly, and there have been hiccups along the way, including actions by the Egyptian security forces that should be condemned. But the ruling military council has actually responded to the demands from the street, and the trial of Mubarak is a major achievement by anybody’s standards.
The Egyptians have proceeded with dignity and determination along their chosen path. The elections have been postponed from September, but they will take place. The authorities have been criticized, even by Egyptian human rights activists, for not allowing international monitors to observe the poll. But Egypt has plenty of jurists and independent monitors, the problem is that in the past they were not allowed to function by the Mubarak regime. One of the factors that led to the revolution was the blatant fixing of the parliamentary elections last December¸ which sickened many Egyptians.
So this is a significant and historic moment for Egypt and the world to savour. Now, in Syria, the brave Syrian people are rising up against their own tyrant, Bashar al-Assad, branded the “dictator of Damascus” by Senator Bob Casey at a Senate foreign relations committee hearing yesterday.
In Egypt, some 850 people lost their lives in the revolution that swept Mubarak from power. In Syria, an estimated 2,000 have died so far. It’s clear that the Syrian death toll and the accompanying atrocities by the security forces are on a different scale in a country of 23 million, compared to Egypt, with its population of 83 million. Switch on your TV, Bashar, because you could be next.Tagged in: egypt, Mubarak, revolution, trial
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