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confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 30th March 2017

The reversed revolution

Blue Lines

The verdict from the Tahrir Square generation that took to the streets in January 2011 to such dramatic effect was clear and concise. 'Mubarakis on the asphalt, the youths are in prison,' an activist known as 'Mohamed 303' tweeted on hearing the news that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak had been released. He was referring to the 60,000 political prisoners in detention under the current government of President Abdel Fatah el Sisi.

There is a strong sense that the events between 2011 and 2017 have turned full circle. Indeed, many say that conditions under President El Sisi are substantially more repressive than under Mubarak while the armed forces enjoy a greater level of impunity. Mubarak's appearance in an iron cage in court like any other defendant had seemed to be a seminal moment. But the moment passed, and seven years later Mubarak has been exonerated from all charges of murder.

That sends a strong political message to the Tahrir Square generation and their successors. If Mubarak, who ruled as an autocratic president, cannot be held responsible for giving the orders to kill 239 demonstrators and to torture and detain thousands more, what prospect is there that President El Sisi and his fellow officers will ever be brought to account for the massacre of at least 900 people on 14 August 2013 in the coup against President Mohamed Mursi's government? Neither does it offer much respite for the legions of political detainees.