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On January 1, 2011, very few Egyptians would have believed that the end of the thirty year old regime of President Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak was close at hand. The autocratic rule of the fourth President of Egypt went almost uncontested ever since he took over in 1981. A mere eighteen days into a mass uprising, on February 11, 2011, the people of Egypt succeeded in bringing down the man who was referred to as the modern pharaoh of the country. Just about another six months later he faced trial with charges of corruption and murder of peaceful protestors, Egyptians – most of whom had not known a national leader other than him.

A Bit of History

Mubarak Hosni remained a central figure not only in Egyptian politics but also in the Arab world for almost thirty years. When President Anwar el-Sadat was assassinated in October 1981, Vice President Hosni Mubarak was by his side. When he took over President Hosni continued with the policy of supporting Israel. This made him popular with the western countries and earned Egypt a hefty aid from the United States every year. With a clamp down on the Muslim Brotherhood, Mubarak systematically removed all opposition and criticism. Basic freedoms including freedom of expression and assembly were denied to the Egyptians.

Egypt, the most populous and perhaps the most influential among the Arab nations grew increasingly Islamicized, under the regime of President Mubarak, while remaining politically cordial with United States. But Egypt came under much criticism when Israel, which had the support of President Mubarak, carried out anti-Palestine operations in Gaza.

In about thirty years of authoritarian rule, Hosni Mubarak had grown unaccustomed to opposition. In 2010 rumors of his failing health caused much speculation about his return to the office of the President and his son Gamal was predicted to be the candidate of choice.

Egyptian Revolution 2011

In June 2010 the death of Alexandria based businessman, Khaled Said caused much uproar due the alleged atrocities of the Egyptian police. Growing dissent due to the high levels of unemployment, inflation, and corruption came to light. These were fueled by the criticism of the masses on social media platforms. With the success of the revolution in Tunisia and the abdication of the Tunisian ruler, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, the Egyptians who had remained largely apathetic and apolitical decided to stage their own revolution. The Egyptian Revolution of 2011 sparked off on January 25 and continued relentlessly till President Mubarak resigned on February 11, 2011. The revolution was largely peaceful but over 850 deaths were reported when the police was deployed to curb the protests and demonstrations. The protests were held all over the country including the major cities such as Alexandria, Suez, Mansoura, Sinai, Luxor, and Tanta but centered on Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt's capital city.

The President Tries it All

On January 28, 2011, President Mubarak went on air and announced the resignation of his government but did not give up his office. Having proffered to support freedom he asserted that his primary objective was to protect the nation from falling into chaos and committed to back his security forces. President Mubarak named Omar Suleiman, the chief of General Intelligence Directorate of Egypt, the Vice President and delegated much of his authority to Suleiman. On February 1 he committed to abstain from running for his office for another term. The president offered to oversee reforms and to conduct free polls within six months. The Egyptians refused to heed any of the said concessions and demanded the ouster of President Mubarak and all those closely associated with him. The deflection of the military forces was perhaps the biggest blow to Mubarak. On February 11, 2011, Omar Suleiman announced Mubarak's resignation. The former president went into exile at Sharm el-Sheikh following the ouster.

The Trial Saga

On May 24, 2011, Mubarak was ordered by the state to stand trial. The charges levied against him included deliberate murder of the peaceful protestors during the revolution of early 2011 and corruption. Among other charges levied were abuse of influence, and squandering public funds. A conviction would mean the death penalty for the former president. Mubarak's two sons, Gamal and Ala'a, also faced corruption charges. A number of people close to the former president, including businessman Hussein Salem also faced prosecution.

On May 28, 2011, the administrative court of Cairo penalized Mubarak for the damages caused to Egypt's economy by closing down the Internet and telecommunication services during the revolution in January – February 2011. A fine of about US$ 33.6 million was levied, to be recovered from Mubarak's personal assets. On August 3, 2011, a criminal court in Cairo tried Mubarak, his sons, and other officials from the former administration. The trial was broadcast on television and watched eagerly by millions. Mubarak, ailing by the time, went into trial in a gurney. Mubarak pleaded not guilty to the charges. The trial was adjourned by Judge Ahmed Refaat and the former president was sent to a military hospital in the outskirts of the capital city. The witnesses including Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi failed to produce evidence that confirmed an instruction from Mubarak to kill the protesters

The second session of Mubarak Hosni's trial was held on August 15, 2011, and the third session on September 5, 2011. From the third session on the trial was taken off-camera. In the third session the head of communication, state security service of Egypt, General Hussein Saeed Mohamed Mursi testified that he had not heard an explicit order to use ammunition against the protesters. The trial was halted with a fight breaking out in court.

Health Concerns

In 2010 it was suggested that Mubarak was suffering from stomach cancer but the report was not confirmed by the office of the president. Following his resignation on February 11, 2011, news about his ailment erupted afresh. Mubarak's lawyer confirmed his cancer in June 2011 and reported that he had undergone surgery in 2010. Following his resignation it was reported that a depressed Mubarak refused medication and solid food. On April 12, 2011, it was also reported that the former president had suffered a heart attack.

The ouster of Mubarak and the success of the Egyptian revolution inspired further revolutions in Libya and Syria.

Last Updated on: September 30th, 2021
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