The verdict from the Tahrir Square generation that took to the streets in January 2011 to such dramatic effect was clear and concise. 'Mubarak is 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.