The Libyan Revolution ends, the Egyptian continues. In Egypt, the youth, socialist and liberal activists, even Islamists are not happy about the achievements of the revolution. They argue that the army is ruling in continuity with the Mubarak regime. Somehow they think that the presence of the old rais is not entirely vanished.
Mubarak didn’t resign. He didn’t flee like Ben Ali, the former Tunisian president. He didn’t suffer an armed attack like Abdallah Saleh, the Yemeni president. Mubarak disappeared from the public scene last 11th of February, leaving power to the Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). For months, many Egyptians thought that he was still leading the country in the shadows.
As many analysts state, the ‘Arab Spring’ has been a popular attempt to regain public spaces. In Egypt, this was even clearer than elsewhere. People took control of Tahrir Square, the Parliament, the National Democratic Party (NDP) buildings, the State Security (Amn el-Dawla) and the State TV (Maspero).
However, in Libya, demonstrators weren’t satisfied with the almost complete success of the National Transition Council (NTC), they wanted to reach the body of the President, as the extreme answer to his provocations and the last conquest of an exasperated nation. However, if Egyptians were more indulgent with their former leader, they still fear that their revolution will be incomplete.
In recent months, Mubarak’s lawyers had spread daily news about his health conditions and frequent heart attacks. These announcements tried to humanize the ‘devil’. Many people were doubtful whether this sick grandfather was really the same man who dismantled the social reforms of Abdel Nasser and avoided any political opposition through a widespread system of State Security. Likewise, the uncertain destiny of the ‘Pharaoh’ and his system of corporative power increased a skeptical feeling on the long period of transition towards a democratic system.
Many Egyptians want to settle the score. But the body of the rais is still hidden and invisible. Nothing changed with the revolts. Before his trial started last August, Mubarak didn’t appear in public since 2010. In recent years he rarely participated in official events. He was present only on the occasion of military parades. for these reasons, the news of his bad health and frequent travels to Germany enhanced the certainty that the succession to his son Gamal was near.
Although nobody has ever considered the 83 years old former president a charismatic figure, he acquired a legendary strength for his longevity and after escaping the attempt on his life set up in Addis Abeba on the occasion of his 1995’s visit. Moreover, his palace in Heliopolis was an unreachable stronghold. A mythic place, portrayed in popular movies, as the house which young Egyptians dreamed of entering to ask for the advice of the ‘great father’.
In addition, all the slogans of the Revolution tried to humanize the president and his headquarters asking him to leave the power, to ‘close the doors and turn off the lights’. The effects of this humanization have divided the Egyptian society. On the one hand, the videos of the old leader on a stretcher affirming his innocence, motivated thousands of conservative, liberal and former members of the NDP to openly affirm that they didn’t want this end for their rais. On the other hand, this attempt of ‘national reconciliation’ confirmed the fears of many demonstrators, outraged by State TV’s programs that criminalize new protests and the decisions made by the SCAF to postpone to 2013 the presidential elections.
Even though a long transition would be desirable for the formation of new political parties, coalitions and the drafting of a new Constitution, it is provoking many reactions among the youth, liberal and socialist activists. For them, the 18 days of Tahrir Square weren’t enough to turn over a new page after Mubarak and heal the divisions in the Egyptian society. Furthermore, the recent events gave to his nostalgic supporters the possibility of pointing out the dangerous sectarian struggle started after his resignations.
For his supporters, the President is still an hero. Mubarak’s body never became a public object. The untouchable man has never been seen by the people and his body has never been putted up as a sign of victory. Is it necessary for an exhausted nation to participate in the massacre of Loreto Square in Milan with the bodies of Mussolini and Petacci held up to public scorn, to attend the execution of Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife or to see the bleeding Gaddafi being slapped by a handful of rebels in Sirte?
After Anwar al-Sadat’s assassination in 1981 by a member of the gam’at al-islamyya, Egyptian people knew that violence is not the way to resolve the contradictions of a country and determine a transition to democracy. Moreover, they always underline the differences between Mubarak and their folkloristic Libyan neighbor Gaddafi. In recent months, they accused him of making mad speeches to Libyans and attracting foreign interventions rather then stepping down.
For these reasons, Hosni Mubarak has been defeated more effectively than the others, having been debased and deprived of all his privileges and with all his family in prison. Looking to the last moments of his Libyan counterpart’s life, he is portrayed by his lawyer as crying. Scared by what could happen to him or hoping to die? But somehow the old rais is already dead, although his body is still not a public property and hopefully never will be.