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No notorious prison for him, however. During his various trials, Mr. Mubarak was housed in a cushy military hospital, from where he would be flown to court and theatrically wheeled in on a gurney, his attorney pleading all the while that his client was close to death. Our current military rulers never forgot that Mr. Mubarak — the former head of the Air Force — was one of them. In March 2017, Mr. Mubarak was ultimately released from the military hospital where he had been confined for six years to his home in a Cairo suburb, his only standing conviction on a charge of embezzlement.
Mr. Mubarak was never held accountable for the killing of some 900 people in the 11 days of the uprising, just as Mr. el-Sisi and other senior security personnel are unlikely to ever be held accountable for the massacre, soon after Mr. Morsi’s overthrow, of at least 817 people in just one day, when soldiers and police violently broke up two sit-ins of mostly Muslim Brotherhood supporters, in Cairo on Aug. 14, 2013. To this day, Egypt has not had a reckoning with the massacre, the worst mass killing in a single day in modern Egyptian history. It is as if the powers that turned off Mr. Morsi’s microphone in his soundproof courtroom cage have turned off the national conscience. Egypt’s Western allies, too, are colluding with Mr. el-Sisi in the collective amnesia.
It speaks volumes to the continued cruelty as well as insecurity of the el-Sisi regime that it forced Mr. Morsi’s family to bury him under heavy security at a Cairo cemetery rather than at the family’s cemetery in the province of Sharqiya. If the death sentence against Mr. Morsi in 2015 was overturned because the regime did not want to make a martyr of him, its cruelty has guaranteed that is exactly what he will become.
Decimated as it is, however, the Muslim Brotherhood is unlikely to be able to pull off mass protests in Egypt, where protests became all but impossible under a draconian law passed soon after Mr. el-Sisi came to power. This, too, is what Mr. el-Sisi has achieved: From July 2013, when Mr. Morsi was overthrown, and January 2016, when the Egyptian parliament reconvened, between 16,000 and 41,000 people, most supporters of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, were reportedly arrested or detained. (Some were liberal or secular activists.) Since then, a spike in death sentences and executions, extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances and a determined effort to wipe out any form of dissent have all but crushed the Brotherhood, as well as most other forms of opposition. Muslim Brotherhood supporters are insisting that Mr. Morsi be eulogized as a martyr at the same time that many state-owned media are reporting on his death without even mentioning that he was once president.
So if Mr. Morsi’s death is to have an impact, he must, once again, be decentered from the story. If a man collapses and dies in a soundproof cage after six years of deliberate and sustained cruelty, what must we hear? Mr. Morsi’s death sentence was overturned, but what was his death in court yesterday but an effective slow-motion fulfillment of that sentence? Mr. el-Sisi has filled Egyptian jails with 60,000 political prisoners. Those who have not already been sentenced under the sharp spike in death sentences since he came to power are subject to illness, torture, and inefficient or denied medical care. How many of them are being slowly executed?
And when will those responsible ever contend with their cruelty from inside a courtroom cage?
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