White tracksuits have never looked so good


Another encounter with the Mubarakaristas on Wednesday, as their cult leader was rolled into ignominy horizontally in a white tracksuit.

When Sharshar and I arrived at the Police Academy in which Hosny and friends are being tried we caught the tail end of the first of a series of rock battles between Mubarak disciples and protesters who are not mentally unbalanced.

The Mubarakistas had clearly arrived in the middle of the night and had appropriated the area around a giant screen erected in the Academy’s car park. There they held up pictures of Hosny as well as a giant banner declaring that Mubarak was the first person to support and protect the revolution. A yafta ta3beereyya.

Sharshar quickly identified the woman who had enthusiastically ejected him from a Mubarakistas meeting in Roxy Square, Cairo, two weeks ago, and advised us to hang back near the cordon of policemen separating them from the anti-Mubarak protesters.

They were like a bunch of bitter, clucking, grieving widows, even the men. One woman next to me quite literally bawled, tears rolling down her cheeks as she looked at the screen. Next to her a man sobbed and cursed the bunch of thieving, bribe-taking scumbags from Tahrir who had so impertinently set in motion events that led to the ousting of their spiritual father.

Some were so paralysed by grief that they were unable to form words, so one middle-aged woman instead held up the middle finger and then her shoe, her face skewered with rage.

I photographed this and a frankly lunatic woman next to me who had been bothering me for some time began pushing me in that playschool way that women do when they want a fight but don’t really, and declared that I had photographed the woman with the shoe. A woman looked on and was clearly embarassed, until they found out that was press when her face morphed into the possessed wolf look many of them had and she demanded that I bugger off too.

I couldn’t help but laugh, it was all so pathetic. I was nonetheless glad that I was taken behind the cordon before the shoe woman could get me because Amr Gharbeia was on my mind and I would have loved to have taken on one of the mothafuckers with the excuse of self-defence.

A second round of stone throwing began after an Anti-Mubarak grappled a Hosny portrait out of one of the protesters’ hands and threw it in the air. The police legged it with the press and left them to it before remembering that their job description extends beyond ball scratching and random violence against citizens. They, in the summer whites, were eventually able to form a cordon around the Mubarakistas while the black-uniformed riot police cordoned off the revolutionaries in a symbolic sort of way. I overheard one man complaining that this decision was a declaration of loyalties.

The Mubarakistas were eventually driven out altogether and the Antis reclaimed the screen, which by this time had taken a few rock blows so that a small black rectangle appeared in the middle, which at certain points during the trial landed exactly on Alaa Mubarak’s eyes, making him look like a sex rapist in a tabloid.

Seeing Mubarak being wheeled into the dock was a moment of intense strangeness. There was a rush of feeling through the crowd when he first appeared, like a window bursting open with a gust of wind, but that subsided into what was almost a trance, a little sea of upturned heads silently watching a dynasty unraveling.

Interestingly, the crowd responded much more vocally to the appearance of Habib El-Adly. This might have something to do with the fact that in addition to being a murderous cunt the man is possibly the smuggest mothafucker ever to have stretched a leg on this planet. He is still smiling, despite the fact that he is currently doing bird after being convicted in a separate case and faces a long stretch if convicted of killing protesters.

He sat in the dock with his lieutenants behind him like a man waiting for an order of coffee. Occasionally he turned around and shared a laugh. After the session ended State TV showed him striding out, still grinning, and confidently shaking the hand of a military police soldier. Alaa and Gamal looked less merry but no less confident. They reminded me of New York gangstas on a Miami break, standing sentry in their tracksuits, legs spread, guarding the godfather busily picking his nose behind them.

On his way out Alaa put his palm over the camera filming him. Think: Britney Spears meets the man in your office nobody likes.

I have problems with this trial. I don’t understand why Mubarak is being tried for three offences out of 30 years of hell and why the charges were brought so quickly. Why not prepare a watertight case? I’m concerned that there prosecution hasn’t got the evidence that will prove Mubarak gave the order to kill protesters, and wonder whether under the law just the fact that the police killed people under his watch is enough to convict him. And what about the systematic torture? Will neither he nor Adly be tried for that?

This trial (if it is indeed a genuine attempt to hold Mubarak to account) is more important to Egypt’s long-term future than the current state of affairs, in that with any luck it will make potential tyrants think twice (or think “is it worth getting rich via milking the country dry and silencing dissent through violent repression at the risk of ending my days in a five star hospital?”)

Unless something really dramatic happens and Tantawy appears and has a meltdown on the stand it won’t though affect the army’s place in the state and its grip on power. It also won’t stop the gangs of plain-clothed men and their gold watches who are slowly creeping back to their posts, dispensing instructions to minions carrying walkie talkies; fittingly enough there was a group of six of them strutting around outside the Police Academy. I recognised one of them and the only thing different about him was that he was carrying prayer beads.

This trial is particularly sweet for Moftases’ generation. Moftases has been slightly obsessed with Mubarak ever since I met him (him being Moftases, not Hosny yuck) in 2007. I remember once asking him about the obsession and him gripping the steering wheel tightly and saying something along the lines of that he has been subjected to Hosny Mubarak every single day of his life for 30 years (on television, in newspapers), and that he realised from a tender age that Mubarak was responsible for all the shit that was happening.

Victories in this revolution are fragile, brief snippets of sunrise between the shadowy gloom of past disasters and the cloying heat of an uncertain future. Despite all the doubts, the appearance of Mubarak and his sons in a cage, contained, is one of these victories.

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