Protests Erupt in Egypt as Mubarak Sentenced to Life Imprisonment
Protests erupted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the symbolic epicenter of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, following Saturday’s announcementthat deposed President Hosni Mubarak would be sentenced to life in prison for his role in the killing of nearly 900 civilians.
Mubarak, who was being tried alongside his two sons, six security officers and his former Interior Minister, was found guilty of complicity in the violent crackdowns on anti-regime protesters during the January 25th Revolution. The crackdowns resulted in the deaths of upwards of 900 peaceful protesters.
The former President’s Interior Minister, Habib El Adly, was also found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. The six security officers and Mubarak’s two sons, however, were acquitted due to a lack of evidence, sparking a wave of protests throughout Egypt and drawing thousands of demonstrators to Tahrir Square.
Nagwa Hassan, mother of one of the murdered protesters, expressed her anger at the perceived injustice of the verdict: “Where is justice?” she cried, “The ones who killed my son were judged innocent. And Mubarak’s verdict will be appealed and he will be declared innocent too. There’s no justice – this is just politics.”
A similar sentiment was being expressed by many independent journalists and figureheads of the 2011 revolution via Facebook and Twitter. Mohamed Fadel Fahmy wrote of the trial: “It slowly kicked in [that] whoever Mubarak’s accomplices were, they are free. Families of martyrs know Mubarak was not on [the] roof pulling [the] trigger.”
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood is attempting to utilize the public outrage at the verdict to assure a victory for their candidate in this month’s run-off elections. The final two candidates to emerge from last month’s first round elections (widely criticized for corruption and fraud) are Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and Ahmed Shafiq, former Egyptian prime minister and holdover from the Mubarak regime.
Widespread anger at the trial’s outcome are contributing to the increased polarization of the Egyptian elections, with many Egyptians choosing to throw their support behind Morsi, who appears to be more of a friend of the revolution than Shafiq. One protester in Tahrir carried an image of Shafiq’s face crossed out with a large, red X. “If Shafiq comes, he’ll declare Mubarak innocent,” he said, “We came to tell them we won’t allow this to happen. The revolution is still here.”
Following sentencing, Mubarak was immediately transported to Tora prison, where the 84-year-old reportedly suffered a “health crisis” brought on by the shock of the verdict. No further details have been made available.