By Arab News
History is on the march once again in Egypt. Former President Hosni Mubarak and his sons have been arrested and are facing the law in a country that he ruled and ruled absolutely for more than three decades. This is something that would have been impossible to even imagine until a couple of months ago. But then a great deal has happened over the past few months that would have been unthinkable in the Arab world when this year began.
The charges against the former president range from corruption to abuse of power including the use of deadly force against thousands of unarmed, peaceful protesters which eventually proved his undoing. If Mubarak, who had been living in peaceful isolation in Sharm el Sheikh since his departure, is facing trial today, it’s precisely because of the same protesters who had returned to Tahrir Square over the past week in their thousands, demanding speedy retribution for the leading lights of the former regime.
It wouldn’t have been easy for Egypt’s new military rulers to move against their former boss and close ally of four decades. But given the growing public unrest in the country and persisting suspicions about the intentions of the military leadership, they were in no position to spare Mubarak even if they had wanted.
Without doubt, this is a critical point in Egypt’s eventful history. This is why it is important for everyone concerned, especially the country’s new leaders, to ensure that nothing but justice prevails. Even those who came out on the streets in millions protesting against Mubarak and eventually forcing him out of power wouldn’t want the pursuit of a vendetta against anyone. Nor would they appreciate a mere show of a trial to please the groundlings or certain sections of the gallery.
What the people of the Arab world’s most populous country needs is a genuine and free and fair trial, nothing more, nothing less. The due process must be observed and respected. This is important to the future of Egypt and well being of its people.
As the intellectual and cultural leader of the Arab world, what happens in Egypt will have far reaching ramifications for the entire region that is right now undergoing cataclysmic changes. All those facing the ire of their people right now would be breathlessly watching what happens to Mubarak and the men who served under him for years.
We cannot look into the fog of the future. However, no matter what happens to Egypt’s former leaders, a fair trial and dispensing of justice would send the right message to the world and all those in authority, especially those who have followed and will follow Mubarak in power. That power comes with responsibility and all those who abuse this trust reposed in them by God and by people will one day sooner or later be held to account. Let us hope this whole process will prove a catalyst for change, accountability, transparency and good governance across the Arab world.