Hosni Mubarak appeared in court at a public hearing on Wednesday and beat all Ramadan soap operas. It was genuine reality TV.
In fact, when Ramadan started, I was frightened that these soap operas would lure away the majority of Arabs, mainly youngsters and women, from the most important things in their lives. This is what happens every Ramadan — long hours are spent watching these serials. A lazy habit. Arab television has changed Ramadan into a month of entertainment. It is no longer a period of hard work and worship.
But that is a different story. The real story is the historic Mubarak housed in an iron cage publicly on air, in scenes we Arabs have never seen before, and I am not sure whether we will see the like of them again. What I mean in seeing, I mean to see an Arab leader of Mubarak's stature behind bars and brought to justice not by external forces like the US did to Saddam Hussain, but by people power.
And that is why many people did not believe the scenes. They did not believe that Mubarak would be brought to court. They were shocked. And though many were overjoyed, it took them time to absorb the enormity of the situation. Was it a dream? Was it a nightmare? Was it for real?
Yes, it was a dream for many Arab people like Egyptians and others who for long years were marginalised, downtrodden and persecuted by their leader. But it was an incredible dream. Yet it happened. And for those other Arabs, mainly some leaders, who like Mubarak still exist, it was the impossible happening. So the trial was a shocking moment for them, if we do not describe it as a terrifying moment. That is why some thought that seeing the trial of Mubarak would be another reason for other dictators and tyrants fighting their people in Libya, Syria and Yemen to kill many more of their people and not give up so they will not have to face the Mubarak moment. But even if that is one argument offered by some, on the other hand, the people of these countries have been given another reason by this trial to be determined and steadfast to bring their leaders to this moment: the moment of facing justice.
Those who argue that they can kill as many as they want to stay in power will never succeed. Because they cannot kill everyone. This argument has been proven by history. It is long live the people, not tyrants. And it is this lesson that many of these leaders who like to dominate by displaying their power do not listen to or learn from.
Now comes the question on the values of a revolution. Is revenge a value? Many think so. There are Mubarak's sympathisers calling for pardoning him, even if the people of Egypt are mainly revolutionaries who want to take revenge on Mubarak. But the sympathisers forget the soul of justice. In fact, they forget that in justice there lies mercy. It is not in the pardon only. If revenge was the only driving force, the only motive, then the people of Egypt might have acted differently, they would not have trodden the peaceful path to bring down a tyrant and change their lives for the better.
Law of equality
And for a minute they forget the Quranic verse that says: "Walakum fi al qasas hayatoun ya uli alalbab lallakum tataqoun (In the law of equality [saving of] life to you, o ye men of understanding; that ye may restrain yourselves)," which they use time after time when they bring people to justice. They forget Mubarak when they bring him to justice because of sympathy for him.
Of course, if we go with their argument that Mubarak has served Egypt for a long time, which is true, and nobody can deny that. But serving the country cannot protect you from the mistakes you make, especially if it is against the people — the killings, the corruption, the persecution, the theft of public funds.
In the end, whether we like it or not, whether we are shocked or not, whether we believe it is happening or not, this is history being written again in the Arab world. And as always with historical events, people are divided into those who believe and those who do not. Being happy or sad will change nothing. It will not change reality. History will run its course.
Lastly, I might agree with the former Israeli defence minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and a friend of Mubarak, who said it was a very sad day for him; and accused the people of Egypt of turning their backs on Mubarak after all these years. But Ben-Eliezer forgets that Mubarak has turned his back on Egyptians for more than 30 years. And I hope that Mubarak at this historic moment will remember that.