Should the Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Be Hanged?


The former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak served as the president of Egypt for 30 years: from 1981 to 2011. During the Mubarak era, ambitious economic reforms took place in Egypt. Mubarak worked closely with the International Monetary Fund for financial aid, which helped Egypt to improve its macroeconomics performance (Amin, 2011). In addition, Mubarak advocated for the reduction of the size of the public sector in order to allow the expansion of the private sector. This initiative led to the improvement of the private sector in Egypt, which resulted in the improvement of the country’s economy (Amin, 2011).

During the period between 1981 and 2006, the GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity of the consumers increased by almost 400 percent: from 1,355 USD in 1981 to 4,535 USD  in 2006 (Amin, 2011). However, during the Mubarak era, the level of corruption, especially in the government, was very high. Government officials unscrupulously spent public money without facing any legal actions from the relevant authorities. Mubarak always shielded government officials who were accused of corruption in return for support in retaining the position of the president (Amin, 2011). In addition, there was substantial corruption in the taxation system, where government officials and big business men evaded taxes while the majority of civilians continued to pay taxes from their little incomes (Amin, 2011).

Politically, Mubarak exercised autocracy (Amin, 2011). During his era, Egypt experienced little progress in political reforms. He allowed very little opposition in the political field. In fact, he always made sure that the political parties in opposition remained weak and divided. His government did not allow full exercise of the freedom of expression and association of the people. Those who tried to express their opinions publicly – through mass protest, street demonstrations, and picketing – would be dispatched by the Egypt military very ruthlessly. Mubarak used Egypt military to achieve his political motives (by using the military to silence the masses through ruthless beatings and killings). All these were to ensure that Mubarak retained his tight dictatorial control over Egypt.

The Uprising

On January 25, 2011, thousands of Egyptians went to the streets of Egypt cities complaining of increased poverty, corruption in the government, widespread unemployment, and oppressive governance of the President Mubarak. The high corruption levels and widespread unemployment had rendered many Egyptians poor. It was common to find a family of seven living in a one-roomed house and surviving on one meal per day. The protestors wanted the Mubarak era to cease hoping that the end of his rule would reduce their plight. The protestors aired their complaints through the peaceful street demonstration, rioting, and picketing (Egypt Uprising: Timeline, 2011). After three days of protest, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian military to quell the demonstrations in all cities across Egypt. Many Egyptians welcomed the use of the military in controlling the unrest, since it is usually deemed that military do not take sides when it comes to political unrests, little did they know that the Mubarak government instructed them to apply undue force to the protestors.

During the period between January 28 and January 30, 2011, hundreds of Egyptians were killed in various cities across the country. The military was seen executing innocent protestors in open gardens within the cities of Egypt despite the fact that they were unarmed. The killings continue for three days and the Mubarak’s government did not take any action to stop the killings, neither did it call for the arrest of the military personnel who were involved in the killings. This was a clear indication of that Mubarak’s government supported the move by the military. In fact, it has been argued that since Mubarak was the president during that time, he ought to have used his powers and authority to stop the killings. However, since he did not exercise his authority as the president to safeguard the lives of the civilians, it was an indication that he supported the killings (Egypt Uprising: Timeline, 2011).

On January 31, 2011, Mubarak formed a new government, announcing a new vice-president despite the mass protest against his rule. He, however, announced that he would not be running for the re-election, but this did not appear satisfactory to the Egyptians. Some of the foreign journalists who were in the country during that period were arrested on February 3, 2011 but released on February 7, 2011. On February 4, 2011 major protests were held across Egypt, a thing that led many members of the ruling party to resign from leadership on the following day. On February 6, 2011, the new government agreed on the concessions but this did seem to calm the situation. On February 8, 2011, the activists who had been arrested were released. They energized the protest by calling for a national wide labor strike on February 9, 2011. Eventually, Mubarak stepped down on February 11, 2011 and freed from Cairo (Egypt Uprising: Timeline, 2011).

Rules Governing Prosecution of Individuals Involved in Crimes against Humanity

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the overall court in the world that has the responsibility of charging individuals accused of committing crimes against humanity. However, not all countries of the world are signatories to the Rome Statute, which led to the creation of the ICC. Nonetheless, according to the ICC, crimes against humanity are those crimes that are committed as part of a widespread attack on civilian population with an intent to destroy (International Criminal Law, 2012). This is exactly what happened in Egypt during the 2011 uprising. More than 800 civilians were killed across Egypt during a systematic attack by the Egyptian military commissioned by the then president.

According to the international humanitarian law, it is illegal to be involved in the destruction of a particular group of people or to use military force to prevent unarmed individuals from expressing their opinions (International Humanitarian Law, 2012). Such outlawed acts, the ones that result in the destruction of civilian lives, are crimes against humanity and their perpetrators should be prosecuted in the ICC and receive severe punishments.

However, ICC does not guarantee that such a criminal would receive a good punishment for his/her deeds. Besides, it is not guaranteed that the ICC would issue capital punishment of a criminal of crimes against humanity. In reference to Saddam Hussein’s case, he was sentenced to death after the Iraq court found him guilty of killing several innocent civilians in Iraq. The ruling in Saddam’s case was based on the Islamist religious rule, which states that a person found guilty of murder of a human being should also be killed (Leyden, 2007). Since Mubarak is not being tried in the ICC but rather in the Islamic court in Egypt, the appropriate punishment for an individual found guilty of killing fellow human beings should be accorded to him.


My opinion regarding whether Mubarak should be hanged or not remains the same as it was in the outline: he should be hanged. This is because Mubarak was the one who ordered the military to quell the mass protests taking place in Egypt in January 2011. The military killed hundreds of civilians in open gardens and cities of Egypt for three consecutive days, but Mubarak did not take any action to prevent them from undertaking the killings. Since he is the one who had commissioned their operations, his silence towards the killings was a clear indication of that he had commissioned them to kill the civilians. These are not the only lives that were lost during the Mubarak era. In 1986, 1992, and 1993, there were public unrests and Mubarak used the military to quell the unrest where hundreds of people were left dead. Therefore, he should be hanged.

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