On July 1, a new president is expected to enter the Presidential Palace in Egypt. In terms of the new Egypt — the post-Tahrir revolution one — there is no better time than between two rounds of elections to sentence deposed president Hosni Mubarak. It will draw the line to end an era.
The Egyptian secular dynasty, which started in 1954 with Gamal Abdel Nasser following revolution in 1952, is expected to end when Judge Ahmed Rifaat delivers his verdict this Saturday, sealing Mubarak's fate. There are those in Cairo who want to postpone the judge's decision due to the prevailing tense situation in the country, just before a second round of elections slated for the middle of the month. Among the religious majority in parliament, many hope to finally steer Egypt into a new Islamist era. Their ambition, parallel to that of Nasser's supporters in his time, is to spread this brand of Islamism to the entire Arab world.
The 1952 Free Officers Movement revolution was a military coup d'etat that overthrew King Farouk and ended his constitutional monarchy. The officers brought Nasser to power, a president who espoused pan-Arabism, dubbed "Nasserism." The Muslim Brotherhood was, at the time, a threat to Nasser's socialist revolution, even if in the end, Nasserism produced less freedom while also failing to reduce economic gaps in the country. Mubarak is paying the price today, dozens of years later, for Nasser's failure. Between Nasser and Mubarak, Anwar Sadat was in power. Like Nasser, Sadat also struggled against the Muslim Brotherhood. He paid for this with his life on October 6, 1981 while he was watching the annual parade to commemorate Egypt's crossing of the Suez Canal in 1973, essentially the start of the Yom Kippur War with Israel.
The third and last president of this dynasty, Hosni Mubarak, is being judged on charges of corruption and of ordering the killing of demonstrators. But he is essentially paying the price for all the social and economic maladies in Egypt.
The new powers in control of Egypt — the military and the Muslim Brotherhood — do not know exactly what to wish for. On the one hand, they hesitate to send an elderly man to the gallows, as it would not exactly contribute positively to Egypt's image. On the other hand, any punishment that is too light would send the youth back to Tahrir Square.
The Tahrir youth, who have already witnessed the Muslim Brotherhood stealing their revolution, are, paradoxically, interested in a light punishment. It will give them an opportunity to take to the streets again and complete their revolution, which is where the idea to postpone the sentencing sprouted from.
In any case, Mubarak will get to see, from his cage in a courtroom, what Nasser and Sadat had the good fortune not to witness — the nascent religious era of Egypt. It was just a matter of time.
In the Gold Souk of the Khan el Khalili market in Cairo today, one can acquire gold coins displaying images of Nasser and Sadat. Mubarak, I was told when I last visited, will not get this same honor.