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Here at rabble.ca, we're always looking to bring you what's missing from the mainstream media in Canada. Since a limited range of viewpoints too often dominate, we seek new ways to bring you a variety of perspectives on local and world events. Here, Saif Alnuweiri brings us a press review -- drawing from a number of international sources -- on one of the biggest global stories from the past week: the verdict in the trial of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Following the verdict of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, various reactions have been written up for media around the world. Veteran Middle East analysts and correspondents have focused both on the immediate impacts of the decision by Ahmed Rifaat to sentence Mubarak to life in prison, and on the course Egypt has taken following his removal from power.
Magdi Abdelhadi -- the former BBC Arab affairs analyst writing in the Guardian -- was disappointed by the outcome of the verdict. It was not only Mubarak who oppressed his people, the men who aided him have been acquitted, causing fresh protests all over Egypt.
For the first time in Egypt's history the pharaoh is behind bars. But the joy was not unalloyed. Some of his most powerful henchmen, the backbone of his police state, were acquitted of killing the protesters and are now free. That's why Tahrir Square in Cairo and other cities have erupted in anger.
What also infuriated the public was that Mubarak was found guilty not of what he did, but rather of what he did not do. That's how seemingly preposterous (but apparently technically correct) the verdict is. The former president was proven guilty of something like 'serious dereliction of duty': he failed to stop the killing of protesters.
The absence of incriminating evidence -- as cited by Judge Ahmed Rifaat -- was the most shockingly appalling of all facts, considering that Egyptians, in fact the whole world, saw on their television screens how the police shot and mauled the protesters last year.
The verdict should not have come as a surprise for those who followed the trial closely. The prosecutors failed to provide material proof (there was some circumstantial evidence on the type of weapons and ammunition issued to the anti-riot police) of specific orders from top police chiefs to the boots on the ground. At one point, the prosecutors publicly complained to the court that the police and intelligence services had refused to co-operate with the investigation.
The question now is why those agencies and the men who control them (all of them Mubarak-era appointees) have not been charged with 'severe dereliction of duty' or, even worse, obstruction of justice. The answer is simple: they still rule Egypt.
Writing for the Daily Beast, Newsweek's Jerusalem bureau chief Dan Ephron was surprised by the sentence given to Mubarak. But the evidence was not strong enough to prevent an appeal by the defense, according to him.
The sentences handed down against Mubarak and Habib el-Adly were harsher than many analysts had anticipated. But legal scholars said the decision was undermined by the acquittals and by certain passages in the verdict itself.
At one point in the decision, the judges seemed to conclude there was no real evidence proving Mubarak had ordered police to open fire on the demonstrators. Instead, they said, he was guilty of failing to prevent the killings.
Egyptian legal commentator Amir Salem said the passage, combined with the acquittal of security officials clearly in the chain of command for such an order, gives defense lawyers significant material with which to challenge the decision.
'The judge's legal justification for his overall ruling practically guarantees Mubarak and El-Adly's acquittal on appeal,' Salem told Egypt's website Al Ahram.
Writing for The Independent, veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk looked back upon the years Western nations courted the now jailed and disgraced former president. He also is cautious about the future of the revolution. According to Fisk, Western nations like military men, the same men who now rule Egypt.
The dictator was sentenced to death yesterday. Twenty-five years is death, isn't it, if you're 84 years old? Hosni Mubarak will die in jail. And Habib al-Adli, his interior minister, 74 years old, maybe he will be killed in jail if he doesn't live out his life sentence. These were the thoughts of two old Egyptian friends of mine yesterday. And Mubarak was sentenced for the dead of the 2011 revolution. That's 850 dead -- 34 people for each year of his term. Quite a thought.
This was a president, let us remember, who happily allowed his journalists to doctor a White House photograph, placing Mubarak in front of King Abdullah of Jordan; indeed, in pace with the youthful Obama, a man whose barber lovingly coloured his hair (his cabinet colleagues availed of the same barber's devices); and whose speeches were printed ad infinitum in the Cairo press. Thank God, he did not (like Saddam and Gaddafi) write novels.
But let us remember, this happy Jubilee Day, how we loved Mubarak, how we courted him, praised him, listened to his advice, his thoughts on Islamism, his security boss's fears of Islamist violence (a man called Omar Suleiman, I seem to recall, who wanted to be president until his name was chucked out by the parliament), and how we thought him a "peacemaker". And now Egyptians wait to see whether Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak's old prime minister, will be the next president, or the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi. After today, my Egyptian friends tell me, Shafiq is out. Well, we shall see. And if Mursi wins, won't he be just as nice to the army as Shafiq?
Too cynical? Revolutions don't always end happily. Think 1789. Think 1917. Think Egypt 1952. I wrote 17 months ago that Egypt's revolution against Mubarak was the happiest story I have ever written. It's still true. Arabs, in their millions, overthrew a dictator. But I fear that, if the dictator has gone, the dictatorship has survived. The army runs Egypt today. And we, in the West, like armies. Washington likes armies.
Nabila Ramdani, a women's rights activist, took a dim view on the future of women in Egypt since the removal of Mubarak. While they constituted a strong and vocal force during the 18-day revolution last year, they have been marginalized since then, according to her.
How dispiriting, then, a year and a half on, to see a highly politicised female population relegated to near-onlookers during Egypt's first bona fide presidential election race.
In Cairo today, there is no longer a sense of a traditionally patriarchal society yielding to the democratic spirit of the Arab Spring. Instead, the hundreds of thousands of women who contributed so much to the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak find themselves marginalised, if not ignored.
Commentators have made much of the 40 per cent of seats won by the Freedom and Justice party of the Muslim Brotherhood in parliamentary elections earlier this year. Some have suggested that Egypt has replaced a western-backed, secular dictatorship with an Islamic version, but for others the true headline figure was the paltry 12 seats for women out of a total of 498.
The danger is that if Islamists dominate not only parliament, but the executive and judiciary, women's rights are likely to regress further. Suzanne Mubarak, the deposed first lady, pushed for pro-women legislation including the right of wives to sue for divorce and a quota system favouring female election candidates. The latter has already been scrapped, while the former is under threat. Disturbing new measures currently before parliament include a reduction in the age at which girls can marry to 14, while proposed changes in custody law will award children over eight to divorced fathers. It all amounts to a feeling of betrayal, but not one that is by any means new.
As in 2011, women played a crucial role in the 1919 revolution against British rule, but found themselves sidelined by the nationalist Wafd party after Egypt was granted nominal independence in 1922. The foiled legacy of Huda Shaarawi, who launched the Egyptian feminist movement a year later by publicly removing her veil, continues. Asmaa Mahfouz, a 26-year-old activist, is now referred to as the "Leader" of the Arab spring revolt because she uploaded a video in February 2011 calling for men to join her and her protesting sisters. What the frustrating narrative of Asmaa and thousands like her prove is that Egyptian women are deemed fit to inspire and mobilise, but not to assert themselves in the political process."
Writing in the Council on Foreign Relations magazine, Steven A. Cook argued that the Egyptians must take responsibility for their desire to see Mubarak put on trial, even if the results of the trial are not what they were hoping for. In the state Egypt is in, it was unrealistic to imagine any other outcome when the machinery of state had not changed, Cook asserts.
Yet justice was probably too much to expect under Egypt's present circumstances. Egypt has not had a revolution. The political system has not been overthrown and replaced; only the head of state has been deposed along with a select number of courtiers. As a result, Mubarak was tried under the rigged and unstable legal system that served the interests of the leaders and defenders-i.e., Mubarak and his associates-of the regime that came into being into the 1950s. Despite dramatically condemning Mubarak at the sentencing, the presiding judge, Ahmed Refaat, was known to be sympathetic to the former president to whom he owed his position and stature. It was thus not hard to imagine that punishments handed down to Mubarak and his fellow defendants would be something considerably less than what many Egyptians wanted or expected.
Why, then, have a trial? Egyptians were demanding revenge and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, concerned about restoring stability, gave the people a trial that was thrilling theater-the former dictator in a cage, the families of martyrs outside the police academy where the trial was held, and the testimony broadcast live. With all the unbelievable things that had happened in Egypt in the preceding months, vengeance potentially could have been served through the courts. Perhaps, the thinking went, the revolutionaries and their shock troops-the ultras-could politicize the environment to the extent that Refaat and his two colleagues would have to order Mubarak put to death. If anyone believed Egyptians were more interested in justice than vengeance, David Kirkpatrick ably captures the post-verdict mood in Sunday's New York Times, including protesters who "brandished nooses to symbolize the sentence they sought." Kirkpatrick also related how the case was rushed last summer in order to "soothe protesters."
Having chosen a trial, Egyptians must now live with the consequences, which may include Mubarak's acquittal. Justice and revenge denied. Of all the ironies of post-Mubarak Egypt, this one may be the toughest to take.
The verdict of the Mubarak trial is certainly not the end of the Egyptian revolution. It has opened more uncertainties about the future of the revolution than there were prior to the court's decision. Rifts have emerged in the ranks of the revolutionaries, as some want justice while others want socioeconomic security. Also, Mubarak's defense team has promised it will appeal presiding judge Ahmed Rifaat's decision, confident they will win. The future of Egypt's last "Pharaoh" is certainly not set in stone.
Meanwhile, the health of Egypt's former president deteriorated dramatically after his sentencing. Although Mubarak ruled Egypt without any major health issues, his health has been on a constant decline since his removal from power some 18 months ago. Associated Press reporter Hamza Hendawi wrote on Thursday that Mubarak was being fed oxygen through a tube and that his health was entering a "dangerous phase."
Hosni Mubarak's condition has deteriorated so much that doctors at the Cairo prison where he is serving a life sentence had to constantly administer oxygen to him overnight, security officials said Thursday.
The officials at Cairo's Torah prison said 84-year-old Mr. Mubarak is suffering breathing problems, high blood pressure and depression. He did not speak to his doctors or anyone else except for a few words to his son and one-time heir apparent Gamal, who is being held in the same prison and was at his father's side, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
They said Mr. Mubarak was given oxygen throughout the night and until Thursday morning.
Security officials say Mr. Mubarak's health has deteriorated sharply since Saturday, when he and his ex-security chief were sentenced to life in prison for failing to prevent the killing of protesters during the uprising that toppled him last year.
Mr. Mubarak had been held in military hospitals from his arrest in April last year up until his sentencing. He did not want to go to the Torah prison hospital after the sentencing Saturday, pleading with his escort to take him back to the military hospital east of Cairo where he had stayed in a suite since his trial began in August. Before that, he was held in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Abdel-Rahman Hussein, one of The Guardian's journalists in Egypt wrote that machines were being used to help Mubarak's deteriorating health and that his family was asking he be moved to a hospital.
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak reportedly suffered a severe health crisis after being transported to prison to serve out his life sentence for failing to prevent the killing of protesters in the January 2011 revolution.
According to the official news agency Mena, Mubarak suffered breathing difficulties and was put on a ventilator five times. Before the verdict on 2 June, Mubarak had been kept in the plush surroundings of the military-run International Medical Centre on the outskirts of Cairo.
Straight after the sentencing, he was flown to the hospital of Tora prison, where he is to serve his time. He refused to leave the aircraft for three hours. His health apparently deteriorated further on Tuesday after a visit by his wife and daughters-in-law.
His wife and his lawyers have requested that Mubarak be transferred to another hospital away from the prison. The medical team in the prison hospital allowed Gamal to accompany his father and it is expected that Alaa may also join him.
Critics, however, alleged that the reports of his deteriorating health were a preamble to move Mubarak back to the medical facility where he has spent the last 11 months, having been moved there from the international hospital in the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Mubarak was flown out of the presidential palace in Cairo to Sharm el-Sheikh on 11 February 2011, the day he was ousted as president.
It has been a dramatic fall for the former president, who was a larger-than-life figure before the revolt. The outcome of his trial, which began last August, has sparked further protests throughout Egypt.
The New York Times' Egypt correspondent, David Kirkpatrick, reported in more detail the events surrounding Mubarak's health and the repercussions it may have on Egypt.
Former President Hosni Mubarak's health has deteriorated so sharply since he was first taken to prison five days ago that the authorities are close to a decision to return him to a hospital outside the penal system, security officials and the state news agency said on Wednesday.
Mr. Mubarak, 84, has suffered heart attacks, high blood pressure, a nervous breakdown and severe depression, a state news agency reported. He was placed on a respirator at least five times in the prison's intensive care unit, state news reports said, adding that on Monday the former president, who was once a fighter pilot, cried after a visit from his wife.
Any decision to move Mr. Mubarak out of prison would further inflame public opinion, with less than two weeks to go before the runoff in the country's first competitive presidential election. The contest pits Mr. Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, against Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest Islamist group.
Before the reports circulated that Mr. Mubarak might be moved, thousands of people were already in the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other cities for a fifth night of protests at the weak verdict handed down against him, which appeared likely to collapse on appeal.
This latest development adds to the whirlwind of activity that has taken place in Egypt since the downfall of Mubarak 18 months ago. It will undoubtedly have effects on the presidential run-off due to take place in the next couple of weeks between Mubarak's ally and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi.
After being sentenced to life in prison only a few days ago it remains to be seen how much longer he will sit in Tora prison before he is taken to a hospital - a move that will undoubetdly enrage the Egyptian public.
Saif Alnuweiri is a third-year journalism student studying at Northwestern University’s Qatar branch campus. He follows media and politics in the region, monitoring the course of the 'Arab Spring' uprisings as well as global politics more broadly. He has written articles and also served as the news editor of the branch campus’ student publication, The Daily Q.