Five years after being ousted after a mass uprising, Egypt’s ex-president Hosni Mubarak is in a military hospital suite and his clan has been nearly rehabilitated under an even more repressive regime.
Mubarak stepped down on February 11, 2011 after 18 days of street protests against the police abuses and corruption that marred the Arab world’s largest country during 30 years of Mubarak rule.
But five years on, human rights groups are once again denouncing deaths in police stations, arbitrary arrests and the mysterious disappearances of opponents of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime.
The groups say that Sisi, who as then army chief ousted freely elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, has installed a regime which is more repressive than Mubarak’s, crushing all opposition.
“The present regime continues to follow the line of Mubarak, but is more brutal,” said human rights lawyer Gamal Eid, who like many other rights activists has been banned from travelling abroad.
On January 25, 2011, millions of Egyptians had taken to the streets, making central Cairo’s Tahrir Square the epicentre of an uprising that mobilised protesters using social media networks. The military eventually asked Mubarak, himself a former general, to step aside and installed a military junta in its place.
The military council organised the country’s first democratic presidential and parliamentary elections in 2012.
Both were won by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, which for decades had been Egypt’s biggest opposition movement.
Just 12 months later Sisi overthrew Morsi after millions of people protested against his single year of divisive rule.
Morsi’s removal led to a blistering police crackdown overseen by Sisi that left hundreds of Morsi supporters dead in street clashes and thousands jailed.
Hundreds more, including Morsi himself, have been sentenced to death or given lengthy jail terms after speedy mass trials denounced by the UN as “unprecedented” in modern history.
The relentless crackdown had also targeted even those secular and leftist youth leaders who led the anti-Mubarak rising. Egypt, which now has a dilapidated economy, has also been rocked by attacks on the security forces by the local affiliate of the jihadist Islamic State group.
Mubarak, 87, has spent the past five years in a suite at a Cairo military hospital, apart from his courtroom appearances on a stretcher, often sporting sunglasses.