Mubarak's Release Sparks New Debate Over Egypt's Future

Aug 22, 2013
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In Egypt, former President Hosni Mubarak was released from prison today, a move that sparked new debate over the future of the country. Mubarak will be under house arrest while facing charges of corruption and for failing to stop the deaths of hundreds of demonstrators in 2011. Supporters of another ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, say Mubarak's release is the latest injustice to befall the Muslim Brotherhood. From Cairo, NPR's Peter Kenyon reports.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: A few dozen pro-Mubarak supporters waved flags outside the Tora prison as a helicopter carried the 85-year-old ex-leader off to a military hospital. Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi ordered that Mubarak be kept under house arrest as the government sought to downplay concerns that Mubarak would somehow escape the charges still pending against him.

Fareed Hussein(ph), a 44-year-old computer engineer, says he began to suspect, as soon as the military deposed Mubarak's successor, Mohamed Morsi, on July 3, that the old regime was intent on mounting a comeback.

FAREED HUSSEIN: (Foreign language spoken)

KENYON: This was expected, said Hussein. They released Mubarak. Soon we'll be hearing about the release of his sons, Gamal and Alaa, and then they'll all pretend to be reformers. And soon enough there we'll be watching Mubarak again on state TV.

Such fears are far from universal. Many Egyptians consider the prospect of an ailing octogenarian autocrat making a political comeback extremely unlikely. Some of the liberals who backed the military ouster of Mohamed Morsi last month say the judiciary is simply following the letter of the law, Mubarak's pre-trial detention period has expired, and that should be respected.

But for those who lost friends or loved ones in the 2011 uprising against Mubarak, seeing the ex-president released, even to house arrest, is infuriating. Muslim Brotherhood officials say talk of respecting the rule of law is hypocritical, considering what happened to Morsi. The group is calling for more protest marches tomorrow after Friday midday prayers, and Egyptians will be watching to see the reaction of the security forces. More than 900 people have been killed in the past eight days. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Cairo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.