Thursday, August 4, 2011

Once untouchable, the old despot and his sons faced the wrath of the nation they had terrorised

This was a moment when a country proved not only that its revolution was real, but that its victims were real

By Robert Fisk

"Just when the Arab dictators desperately need to drink the secure, cool waters of an Arab summer, along came the Egyptians yesterday to poison the well. Deep into its depths, those dictators could see a flickering enmeshed face, fragile, fingers playing over its nose and mouth, the arm of a man on a stretcher raised to prevent the light getting too close but – for just a few brief moments – with the same old arrogant eyes. Then the heavy black mike appeared in the man's left hand. "I am here, your honour," said a chillingly strong voice. "I have not committed any such crimes.".....

And across the vast, arid wastelands of the Arab despots, the government televisions continued to show game shows and cooking classes and domestic dramas and friendly crowds, all of whom loved their presidents and kings and potentates, who could never – could they? – be accused of these awful crimes. Outside Egypt itself, the only live coverage of the trial was broadcast by post-revolutionary Tunisia and that nemesis of the Mubarak regime and of the United States and of Israel: the Hezbollah's Al-Manar television.....

For history – Arab history and western history and world history – will place the scenes in the Egyptian Police Academy yesterday in whole chapters, footnoted and referenced, the moment when a country proved not only that its revolution was real, but that its victims were real, its dictators' corruption detailed down to the last Egyptian pound and the last fake company title, its people's suffering forensically described.

Despite its flaws, this was not summary justice, the kind so beloved of the Assad family and the Gaddafi family or, indeed, the Mubarak family. The Caliph had been brought low – and the "Arab Spring" (ever a dodgy item right now, with the butchery in Syria and the trumpery of the Libyan war) revived. Even when the helicopter bringing the old boy to justice appeared in the pale, hot skies over the desert, we shook our heads for just a moment. All true......."

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