Mubarak and sons' detention a victory for Egypt's opposition
Mubarak is under questioning and he and his two sons are being transferred to a Cairo prison. Egypt's military rulers appear to be responding to escalating public pressure to see the former president behind bars.
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'May God bring us swift justice'
But as they heard the news Wednesday morning, many Egyptians smiled broadly. “I’m so happy – we’re all so happy,” says Abdullah, a student at Ain Shems University in Cairo. Yet after 30 years under Mubarak, many said it was hard to believe he was detained and his sons in prison. “Mubarak behind bars? I can’t even imagine it,” says Abdullah. He said he would find the image difficult to process until he saw a photo as proof.Skip to next paragraph
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“May God speed the investigation and bring us swift justice,” says Fatima, a Cairo street vendor who grinned and congratulated her customers on the news as she sold them soft drinks. Many expressed the view that Mubarak’s reported sickness was only a ploy to escape questioning.
Some on Cairo’s streets particularly reveled in the news of the detainment of Mubarak’s son Gamal, who was widely unpopular.
Seen as his father’s choice of successor, he had held a top post in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). He had directed Egypt’s economic liberalization and privatization project, which many Egyptians saw as only benefiting the rich and leaving behind the large segment of Egypt’s population that struggles to get by. Many Egyptians believe he abused his position to profit handsomely on the back of the public.
A victory for secular groups – not Muslim Brotherhood
The Mubarak sons join several top regime figures already in detention while investigations unfold. The much-hated former head of the NDP, Safwat el-Sherif, was detained Monday.
According to Professor Sayyid, the detentions of top figures represent a victory for the secular groups that had organized renewed protests to press the issue. While the Muslim Brotherhood had announced it would take part in last Friday’s protest, it had not supported a similar protest the week before that laid the ground for the huge gathering.
“This is also a response to the pressure of secular groups of young people,” he says. “This shows a new relation of power in the country, with the secular groups deciding what should be done and the Muslim Brothers are left out.”
Next battlefield: elections
With one of their main demands met, some Egyptians may now turn their focus to the next battlefield: parliamentary and presidential elections slated for September and November.
Political parties, heavily repressed under Mubarak’s rule, will have to scramble to match the organizational capacity of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has grass-roots support. Though dozens of new parties have sprung up since Mubarak was toppled, political organization has not yet become a priority for many protesters.
At Friday’s protest, Amira Said nearly screamed out chants calling on the military to bring Mubarak to justice. When asked about her political affiliation, the protester said she had none. “I don’t know yet,” she said. “I haven’t taken the time to study all the new parties.”