08/03/2011, 00.00
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A bed-ridden Mubarak goes on trial

The former president is accused of corruption and ordering the killing of civilians during ‘Arab spring’ protests. Scuffles break out in the courtroom between spectators. For Fr Henry Boulad, directed of Alexandria’s Jesuit Cultural Centre, the proceedings are a “huge” step forward, but will not bring anything concrete. In his view, Egypt’s democracy and future will not be decided in this trial.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – The trial of Egypt's ex-President Hosni Mubarak began today in Cairo. He is charged with corruption and ordering the killing of civilians during the ‘Arab spring’. An estimated 850 people were killed in clashes between young protesters and soldiers.

Mr Mubarak was wheeled into a cage in the court on a hospital bed, a different man from the powerful strongman Egyptians and the world had come to know before.

This is a “huge” step forward according to Fr Henry Boulad, director of Alexandria’s Jesuit Centre. However, he doubts much will come of it because “countries like Saudi Arabia still defend him, and even the United States and Europe are not willing to see him go down.”

His sons Alaa and Gamal are in the cage with him as are seven other former officials, including former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly.

The importance of the moment is also measured by the size of the crowd inside, and especially outside, the courthouse.

About 250 opponents and supporters of the former president waited since the early hours of the morning. Some of the latter threw rocks at a mega-screen set up outside the building to allow people to follow the proceedings.

Some 3,000 soldiers and police have been deployed to maintain order at the courthouse. Ten people were injured in the scuffles and a similar number was arrested.

However, even if the world sees the Mubarak trial as a step towards democracy, for Fr Boulad, “the problem of democracy and Egypt’s future are a different story”.

Today’s trial “is meant to appease the young people of the revolution, give them some good will,” but only as a way to close a chapter in Egyptian history and forget it as quick as possible.

Still, for the Jesuit clergyman, Egypt’s future remains bright. Whilst acknowledging that the Muslim Brotherhood is better placed and might take power on the short run, “I thing that less educated people realise that the Islamists are not going anywhere.”

For him, this awareness, which is nurtured also by the increasingly strong young people of the revolution, will lead to “the rejection of all forms of radicalism”.
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