Gazans show no sympathy for Mubarak during trial

Palestinians in the coastal strip describe personal grievances against former Egyptian president, namely restrictions he placed on travel.

By OMAR GHRAIEB / THE MEDIA LINE
August 7, 2011 14:42
3 minute read.
Mubarak on trial in Cairo

Mubarak trial closeup. (photo credit: REUTERS/Egypt TV via Reuters TV)

 
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GAZA CITY -- Watching the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak roused little sympathy from Gazans. Amid the jeering and shouts there was also a sense of justice. For some, the trial was personal.

“My mom got really sick last year, the tumor spread everywhere in her body,” says Mustafa Abu Warda as he watched the televised trial in a Gaza City electronics store. “Doctors then said her only hope was to travel to Egypt.”

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He recalled how they brought his mother to the border with Egypt – which was then under Mubarak’s rule -- but the authorities turned her back, saying, “Others are dying faster than her.”

“One Egyptian officer told my mother mockingly to hold on, not to die before her turn came,” Warda told The Media Line, choking back tears as he remembered his mother’s death while waiting.

Warda, 18, says his family should have joined with other Gazans who died waiting for medical help in Egypt to file a lawsuit against Mubarak.

“We should have added more accusations to his file. I hope he rots in prison,” he said.

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The trial in Cairo has captivated the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which borders the Egyptian Sinai, the only border in or out of the coastal zone. Crowds that have gathered around television sets to watch the trial of the toppled leader are showing little sympathy for Mubarak as he lay on his hospital bed in a courtroom cage.

“Justice is served,” they chant. “Your day came, Mubarak.”

Others, however, were more sympathetic.

“We feel sorry for this man. Yes, he made so many bad things that he should be held responsible for, but that doesn’t mean we have the right to humiliate him in this way, and on live television,” whispered one man, who asked not to be named.

As the trial began, Internet-savvy bloggers began tweeting:

@iBashar:
“Mubarak’s trial in Egypt: We have come a long way.”

@livefromgaza:
“I hope [Gaddafi] and [Assad] and their likes get trialed like Mubarak.”

@Omar_Gaza:
“Why didn’t we Palestinians assign a lawyer to accuse Mubarak of supporting the Israeli Apartheid & Gaza siege??? #MubarakTrial”

Jawad Abu Mahmood, 78, watched the trial closely and in silence while others chatted or laughed. He said the trial reminds him of the time Gazans broke down a steel wall the Egyptians had erected on the border near the Palestinian city of Rafah.

“Mubarak appeared on TV and said he would allow Gazans to pass …because they are hungry,” Mahmood said with disgust. “We were under siege and Gazans were without any supplies but they felt trapped and they were hurt because Egypt back then was supporting Israel’s siege on Gaza. It wasn’t about food back then, it was about principles,” Jawad added angrily.

For Samer Jarousha, Egypt’s strict border crossing policies in place under Mubarak shattered his life.

Jarousha, 31, a native of Gaza, had found a job in the United Arab Emirates. In 2010 he decided to visit his family for the first time in a few years. He dismissed his friends’ warnings that he could become trapped and came anyway.

When he tried to return through the Egyptian border crossing, the authorities told him without reason to head back to Gaza and return at a later time. He kept trying until he lost both his hope and his visa, for which he blames Mubarak.

“I got stuck in Gaza with no job and no more room for my dreams and ambitions. It took me a while to accept my fate and start a life from scratch here in Gaza. Yes, I feel happy to see Mubarak behind bars. He killed my dreams,” Samer said.

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