RPT-FEATURE-As Egypt change drags on, some praise Mubarak

Fri Jul 8, 2011 4:48am GMT


"Whenever people become disillusioned with revolutions -- and that always happens inevitably -- they tend to look upon the past with some nostalgia," Shadi Hamid, director of research at Brookings Doha Centre, said.

"There is a risk that if the economic situation stays stagnant and people continue to be out of jobs or get fired,then there is a real risk that people will look back and say,'Well, maybe things were not as bad as we thought under Mubarak'."

Always confident and never showing a trace of doubt, Mubarak liked to be seen as a benign and tireless leader protecting the security and stability of his country and serving the welfare of its people.

Now 83, he is due to stand trial on Aug. 3 for the killing of protesters and abuse of power. He has not appeared in public since stepping down and is now in a hospital bed in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh but has denied any wrongdoing.

His supporters argue that he saved Egypt from chaos after militants assassinated his predecessor in 1981, kept Egypt out of wars, restored relations with the Arab world after the 1979 peace treaty with Israel and, after long delays, allowed his government to open up the economy to stimulate growth.

"We shouldn't take the peace and stability we enjoyed for 30 years under Mubarak for granted," Sally Milad, a 26-year-old graphic designer, too young to know any other president, said.

"He deserves a dignified exit because he spared a lot of lives when he chose to step down, unlike Gaddafi in Libya or Bashar (al-Assad) in Syria whose stubbornness has claimed a lot of innocent lives."

A bloody revolt against Gaddafi has claimed thousands of lives while human rights groups say the death toll in Syria is over 1,300 and 12,000 have been detained.   Continued...

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