Most of the several thousand Egyptians who backed Hosni Mubarak during the January 25 Revolution were believed to be beneficiaries of the old regime, or paid demonstrators hired by the now-dismantled NDP. Curiously, however, a good number of the ousted president's supporters maintained their stance after his demise, indicating that a few people indeed had genuine faith in the 82-year-old.
During Mubarak’s last few days in power, his disciples described him as a “father to all Egyptians” because of his “undoubted” love for his countrymen, a “hero of war and peace” because he “bravely fought” in the 1973 war against Israel and later did not get involved in warfare or hostility with neighbouring countries in order to “keep Egypt safe for many years”, and last but not least a “wise leader” who always makes the right decisions for his nation’s best interest.
Nowadays, as the deposed commander-in-chief is held captive at the International Sharm El-Sheikh Hospital and faces accusations of ordering the killing of peaceful protesters, accumulating illegal profits and persistently abusing his unfettered political power in many ways for years, some people still believe in him and are calling on the ruling military council to grant him amnesty. A smaller group just wants to ensure he receives a fair trial.
“We must be loyal to this man and to his military and political history,” said Nabil Zanfal, member of the Facebook page "The Union of Mr. President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak’s Fans." “Even if some of us insulted you [Mubarak], others did not. You deserve all respect and admiration.”
On Monday 25 April, Easter Day, Mubarak’s supporters congregated in small numbers at the state television building in Maspero and wanted to stage a sit-in. Some pedestrians were reportedly provoked by their chants, which initiated a verbal joust that later developed into a brawl before army forces dispersed the crowds. Four days later, around 500 pro-Mubarak demonstrators gathered again in the same location and reiterated their demand to exonerate him.
Both rallies were not entirely newsworthy, but more pro-Mubarak gatherings are on the cards. Another Facebook page, among others, was launched to invite the devotees of the toppled president to a million-man march, again in Maspero, on Friday 6 May, two days after the ousted president’s 83rd birthday. Only 288 had accepted the invitation at the time of going to press.
“We need to move fast; insulting the former president is an insult to the whole Egyptian population,” said Mohamed Abdel Fatah, a member of the page. “Like we hate those who killed [ex-president Anwar] Al-Sadat, the next generations will blame us for losing Hosni Mubarak. We need to wake up and understand what’s going on.”
Alaa Abdel Nabi, a 20-year-old engineering student and creator of the page, told Ahram Online: “We call it a million-man march to encourage people to participate. I expect around 50 or 60 thousand to take part.
“We wanted to travel to him [Mubarak] in Sharm El-Sheikh on his birthday, Wednesday, and bring him cake, just to lift his spirits, but we cannot due to security reasons. So on that day we will congregate in Maspero to tell him ‘Happy birthday’. All Egyptians used to celebrate that day, but now everyone is cursing him. Two days later, we will stage the million-man march to demand his exoneration without trial.
“This is our primary demand … I hope the Egyptian authorities respond to us; if not, then the revolution, which I am not against, has not succeeded. During the revolt, some three millions went to the streets with certain demands and had them fulfilled.
“In the same manner, I will gather a number of people to call for Mubarak’s absolution, and that demand should be met also…We don’t want him to stand trial. We have no reservations about trying his son Gamal or anyone else, but not Mubarak whom we are defending as a person.”
Mubarak was forced to step down on 11 February, after millions protested against him all over the country for 18 days in a full-scale uprising. He remained under house arrest along with his family members for some time after his overthrow, before he and both of his sons, Alaa and Gamal, were remanded in police custody pending investigation. The latter two were incarcerated in Tora Prison along with numerous former ministers and high-profile government officials.
The vast majority of Egyptians, even those who live abroad, wanted to see Mubarak’s 30-year rule come to an end. No sooner had he been brought down than exuberant celebrations broke out across Egypt and in many other countries. They were ecstatic over the destruction of a system “riddled with corruption, embezzlement, deception and nepotism”, and over a dream of a much better future under a genuinely elected president.