Middle East
12:06 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Mubarak's Release From Prison Cuts Across Egypt's Divisions

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 4:07 pm

In Egypt, members of the Muslim Brotherhood are trying to get supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi back into the streets.

But the military appears to be consolidating its power.

There were signs of Egypt's shifting fortunes on Thursday when former President Hosni Mubarak was flown from jail to house arrest in a hospital. A few dozen people celebrated outside the prison as Mubarak, 85, was ferried away by helicopter.

By order of Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, Mubarak will be held under house arrest at a hospital in suburban Cairo. He will still be retried for his role in the killing of some 900 protesters during the 2011 uprising against his regime — as well as on corruption charges.

Those who support Morsi criticized Mubarak's transfer as another sign that military rule is back in Egypt. Especially in light of how Morsi has been treated — overthrown and now detained along with thousands of his supporters.

Meanwhile, families of those killed during the uprising against Mubarak in 2011 are angry.

"How can they honor him like this," asks Basma Azzam, whose brother, Lotfy, was among the dead. "I'm astonished. How can all these people not see? Are you in a coma? Is Mubarak dearer to you than all the dead?"

But Azzam's main shock is how little public reaction there has been. And right now she won't protest either. She says the country is already going through enough.

Political activists who don't support the military or the Muslim Brotherhood say this shows the country is moving in reverse.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. We're going to take a look now at this week of turmoil in the Middle East and we start in Egypt, where this morning the Muslim Brotherhood is calling for more street protests in support of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. But the military that forced Morsi out from power has the upper hand.

GREENE: We saw a symbol of Egypt's shifting fortunes yesterday when former dictator Hosni Mubarak was flown by helicopter from prison to house arrest in a hospital. NPR's Leila Fadel describes how the news of Mubarak's move cut across the country's divisions.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: A few dozen people celebrated outside the prison as the 85-year-old Mubarak was ferried away by helicopter. By order of the prime minister, Hazem el Beblawi, Mubarak will now be held under house arrest at a military hospital in suburban Cairo. He will still be retried for his role in the killing of some 900 protesters during the 2011 uprising against him as well as on corruption charges.

Morsi's supporters criticized the move as another sign that military rule is back in Egypt. Especially in light of how ousted president Morsi has been treated - overthrown and now detained along with thousands of his supporters. Meanwhile, families of those killed during the uprising against Mubarak in 2011 are angry. Basma Azzam's brother Lotfy was among the dead.

BASMA AZZAM: (Speaking in foreign language)

FADEL: How can they honor him like this, she says. I'm astonished. How can all these people not see? Are you in a coma? But Azzam's main shock is how little public reaction there has been. And right now she won't protest either. She says the country is already going through enough. Political activists who don't support the military or the Muslim Brotherhood say this shows the country is moving in reverse. Leila Fadel, NPR News, Cairo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.