Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak waves when leaving the Elysee presidential palace following a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, on July 5, 2010 in Paris. Photo: Miguel Medina / AFP

The full honors of a military funeral is the fate of the deceased former Egyptian president Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, exactly nine years after his ouster by a popular uprising against his rule.

The former air force commander and president for three decades, from 1981 to 2011, died on Tuesday in a military hospital in Cairo, after struggling with an ailing heart.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Mubarak’s commitment to “peace and security” on Tuesday while Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said he mourned the death “with great sorrow” and hailed Mubarak’s support of the Palestinian cause. 

The ceremony for the 91-year-old deposed autocrat will take place in the afternoon on Wednesday in the Tantawy Mosque in the fifth settlement east of Cairo, according to Kamel el-Wazir, minister of transportation.

It was this month, nine years ago, the military backed the resignation of Mubarak, following 18 consecutive days of protest by millions of Egyptians across the country who chanted for ‘Bread, Freedom and Social Justice.’

Mubarak responded to that uprising – which hoped to topple the police state and root out corruption, poverty and injustice – by allowing the security apparatus to employ force against the mass demonstrations, leading to the death of more than 800 protesters in a span of days.

By backing Mubarak’s resignation in 2011, the military hoped to allow his successor, drawn from their own ranks, a secure, discreet and respectable transition of power. But the anger of the families of the hundreds of Egyptians protesters who were killed, and of the people who lost their eyes to gunshots, continued to fuel public calls for justice.

Mubarak was eventually put on trial for charges of killing protesters, for which he was later acquitted. In the end, however, he was only convicted for minor charges related to corruption.

Presence/absence

Mubarak’s prolonged trial began in 2012. During that period, his hearings were broadcasted for the public to see him on a wheelchair, at times seemingly broken, in an image that contributed to calming the streets.

His presence in court depicted a different image from that of the autocrat who for years defied growing old by dying his hair black. For the first time , people could see his hair had turned white.

After spending six years remanded in the Maadi Military hospital in a room overlooking the Nile, he was released in March 2017 and returned to his home in the upscale neighborhood of Heliopolis.

During his time in the Maadi military hospital, he would be seen waving at former supporters from the window of his hospital room.

Until his death, Mubarak appeared in public only once, in a recent YouTube video, in which he shared his memories since the 1973 war with Israel. 

On Saturday, his sons Alaa and Gamal, were cleared of their own corruption charges in a Cairo court.

30 years of injustice

Mubarak’s unlikely presidency became a reality as he was the vice president when former president Anwar al-Sadat was assassinated at the hands of Islamist militants in 1981.

With the promise of political stability and security, Mubarak managed to stay in power for three decades, inheriting a peace treaty with neighboring Israel, fostering close security ties with Washington, and maintaining control at home with emergency rule.

Meant to keep Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, in check, Egypt’s decades of emergency rule endowed security agencies with sweeping powers that at times undermining basic freedoms and rights.

Even so, Mubarak himself faced an assassination attempt several years after Sadat’s killing when he visited Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1995.

But it was widening socioeconomic disparities, coupled with anger over repressive tactics by the security forces, that provoked massive nationwide demonstrations in 2011.

In the first decade of the millennium, daily scenes of long queues of Egyptians awaiting their subsidized bread became symbolic of a failed economic system.

In the years prior to the 2008 global economic crisis, Egypt’s growth rates were on the rise, but so was inequality and social injustice. Disparities in income and unemployment rates became more pronounced between the impoverished region of Upper Egypt and the central urban cities where most economic activities were concentrated.

The disparity lead to waves of migration to the urban center that created and augmented the marginalized and informal neighborhoods on the outskirts of Cairo, Alexandria and other urban centers.

During the last months of Mubarak’s rule, reports of police brutality and torture provoked widespread attention, particularly after the brutal killing of 28-year-old entrepreneur Khaled Said by police in the northern coastal city of Alexandria.

Following a military-shepherded transition period, Egypt’s first free elections saw the Muslim Brotherhood come to power in 2012.

The pendulum would soon swing again, however, with the military forcing out the Islamist president, Mohammad Morsi, in favor of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Sisi remains in power until today.

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