Mubarak’s trial and Egypt’s ‘Jan. 25 conspiracy’

The ouster of Hosni Mubarak was not a revolution, but a “conspiracy,” said his lawyer

Sonia Farid

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The ouster of Hosni Mubarak was not a revolution, but a “conspiracy” that “took advantage of some people’s discontent in order to add fuel to the fire,” said his lawyer Farid al-Deeb at the August 2 hearing of the former Egyptian president’s trial.

The objective “was not reform as the case appeared to be, but rather chaos,” said Deeb.

He quoted several officials to back his case, including the then-chief of military police, the current head of national security, and former Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal al-Deen.

Deeb’s statement has caused widespread controversy. Columnist Mohamed Rushdi wrote: “The Egyptian constitution stresses that [Jan. 25] was a noble and great revolution... Who is right then, Deeb or the constitution?”

Rushdi said if Deeb was right, it would necessitate modifying the constitution and putting the army and religious institutions on trial “on charges of taking part in a conspiracy to undermine the Egyptian state.”

Rushdi added: “On June 27, 2011, and in his defense statement in the same case, Deeb actually said the Jan. 25 revolution was an honorable one that was endorsed by Mubarak, who fully acknowledged the people’s legitimate demands and did not attempt to stop their peaceful protests.”

Rushdi expressed surprise that while an Egyptian belly dancer was summoned to the General Prosecutor’s office for wearing “an indecent dance outfit” modeled after the Egyptian flag, Deeb is getting away with a much greater crime.

“Article 98 B of the Penal Code states that whoever attempts to undermine the basic principles of the constitution is to be punished by jail or fine or both. So shouldn’t some action be taken to protect our constitution from the whims of opportunists?” asked Rushdi.

Gamal Eid, director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, said Deeb “insulted the Egyptian constitution, which honors the revolution, and this is a crime.”

Mustafa Kamel al-Sayed, professor of political science, blamed the judge for not taking action against the lawyer.

“Shouldn’t the judge have stopped Deeb’s defense statement on the basis that it violated the constitution?” Sayed asked.

Israa Abdel Fattah, an activist and co-founder of the April 6 Youth Movement, said Deeb not only violated the constitution, but also the “power hand-over document” given by former interim President Adly Mansour to current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi upon the latter’s electoral victory.

Former MP Gamal Zahran said Deeb “insulted the Egyptian people by portraying them as a ‘herd’ that responds to any external plots dictated to it. He tarnished the image of Egyptians and derided their willpower.”

The Guardians of the Revolution Party accused Deeb of “belittling the sacrifice of Egyptian youths who lost their lives in defense of the revolution.”

In addition to calls to put Deeb on trial, there are demands to revoke his membership in the Lawyers’ Syndicate.

The head of the syndicate, Sameh Ashour, received a letter signed by hundreds of lawyers accusing Deeb of tarnishing the image of the law by “turning it from a profession for the defense of the innocent to one for the defense of tyrants.”

The letter, which called for the syndicate’s General Assembly to hold an urgent meeting to discuss the matter, underlined Deeb’s “shameful history,” referring to his defense of Israeli spy Azzam Azzam.

This point was also raised by writer Tarek Abbas, who said Deeb has always been known for defending cases considered by the public to be high treason.

In Azzam’s case, “the Israeli embassy in Cairo asked for Deeb by name,” Abbas wrote.

Journalist Mohamed Amin wrote an article in which he said calling the Jan. 25 revolution a conspiracy is one of Deeb’s strategies to get Mubarak acquitted.

“Deeb does not want Mubarak to be pardoned. He wants him acquitted. He wants him to eventually get a massive funeral like the one [former President Gamal Abdel] Nasser got,” Amin wrote.

That is why Deeb used testimonies from Mubarak’s men, the journalist added.

“None of those whose testimonies are included in the defense statement were expected to denounce the man who was the reason for all the power they had gotten,” he wrote.

Deeb took advantage of the fact that Egyptian public opinion is not as fiercely against Mubarak’s acquittal as it had been before, Amin added.

“He knows that people are not keen on seeking revenge against an ailing man in his mid-80s, and he tries to garner as much sympathy for him as possible,” the journalist wrote.

Amin’s article, published in the independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry al-Youm, led Deeb to file a lawsuit against him, accusing the journalist of trying to influence the court by questioning the validity of witnesses’ testimony.

Deeb responded to his critics: “Those who criticize my defense arguments are ignorant and have ulterior motives. They know nothing about the basics of legal arguments. I ask everyone who wants to sue me to please go ahead.”

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