CAIRO (AP) – Amal Shaker’s 25-year-old son Ahmed was fatally shot in the back on the “Friday of Rage,” one of the bloodiest days of Egypt’s 2011 uprising against long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Nearly four years later, she is still waiting for justice.
“We want blood for blood,” she said.
Her wait is supposed to end Saturday when a verdict is expected in the 86-year-old Mubarak’s trial on charges connected to the killing of more than 900 protesters against his rule. But Egypt’s “trial of the century”, initially watched with excitement, has largely dropped from public attention. That’s partly because of how drawn out the process has been – with a trial and retrial – and partly because subsequent upheaval has flipped the political narrative.
The revolutionary fervour of 2011 has been largely extinguished, replaced among many Egyptians by exhaustion from nearly four years of turmoil. Many of the pro-democracy activists central to the uprising are in prison for attempting to protest against the new president, former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Others are dismissed in the media as troublemakers, while the police who in the revolutionaries’ eyes were the hated tools of Mubarak oppression are now lauded in the press as heroes in a fight against extremists.
“The issue is over,” Ahmed Hani, a Cairo accountant, said of the trial, which he like many is not following closely.
“What’s important is to improve the country, to bring it back to its prior state, more than to take an interest in a thing like this.”
When the trial began in 2011, Egyptians were initially transfixed by TV images of the former strongman who ruled for 30 years being rolled on a gurney into the defendant’s cage. In June 2012, he was convicted of failing to stop the killing of protesters and was sentenced to life in prison.
But the conviction was thrown out by a higher court, and a retrial began in May 2013. On trial with Mubarak are his former interior minister and other top security officials, as well as his sons Alaa and Gamal on corruption charges.
During the retrial, the political landscape dramatically transformed.
Mubarak’s elected successor, extremist Mohammed Morsi, was ousted by el-Sissi and the military after massive protests that began on June 30, 2013 against the domination of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. A sweeping crackdown against extremists ensued and has widened to suppress any dissenting voices.
Now the state routinely blames all violence on extremists and foreign conspirators. TV stations and newspapers have largely dropped criticism of Mubarak’s old regime and focus all their venom on extremists. They also at times promote a revised history painting the 2011 uprising as part of a conspiracy to destabilise Egypt that the 2013 “revolution” corrected.