Egypt held a military funeral for former president Hosni Mubarak, bestowing final honours on the man who ruled for 30 years until ousted in a 2011 uprising.
Horses drew Mubarak’s coffin draped in the Egyptian flag at a mosque complex as cannons fired, followed by a procession led by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as well as Mubarak’s sons Alaa and Gamal.
The funeral march was attended by key political figures from Mubarak’s years in power, some scarcely seen in public since he was removed from office. Sisi stayed for the duration of the procession, offering condolences to Alaa, Gamal and Mubarak’s wife Suzanne before his departure.
Mubarak died on Tuesday in intensive care after undergoing surgery, leaving Egyptians divided over the legacy of his era, marked by stagnation and repression but recalled by some as more stable than the chaos that followed.
The stately funeral was a contrast from rejoicing on the streets in 2011 when he was swept from power as an early victim of “Arab Spring” revolutions.
He spent many subsequent years moving between jail and military hospitals before being freed in 2017 under Sisi, who jailed Islamist and liberal opponents in the name of stability.
Egypt’s presidency and armed forces mourned the former air force officer as a hero for his role in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. The presidency declared three days of national mourning.
Mubarak’s coffin was airlifted to the family burial compound from the funeral at Field Marshall Tantawi mosque – named for Mubarak’s defence minister of 20 years, who presided over an abortive transition to democracy after Mubarak resigned.
Dozens of Mubarak supporters, some from his home village Kafr al-Meselha in the Nile Delta, gathered outside the mosque.
FAREWELL OF 30 YEARS
“This is the history of 30 years, the farewell of 30 years,” said Zeenat Touhami, a 35-year-old from Cairo, who described herself as happy Mubarak’s “pride was restored” after his fall and that the state showed appreciation to him after his death.
A small crowd gathered outside his burial site in Heliopolis, where supporters chanted: “Alaa, tell your father that the 100 million [Egyptians] are saying goodbye.”
Mohamed Zaree, a human rights activist, said autocracy and economic hardship were worse under Sisi than Mubarak.
Sisi, who came to power after leading the overthrow of Mubarak’s Islamist successor, Mohamed Mursi, has overseen a crackdown on dissent, which rights groups say is the most severe in recent memory.
“Mubarak’s era was painful but this is more difficult and painful in terms of freedoms and economic conditions,” Zaree said.
Many activists who helped organise mass protests which ousted Mubarak are behind bars or in exile. Sisi supporters say a crackdown was needed to stabilise the country after the turmoil following 2011.
Mubarak was sentenced to life for conspiring to murder 239 demonstrators during the 18-day revolt in 2011, but was freed in 2017 after being cleared of charges.
He was again convicted in 2015 along with his sons of diverting public funds to upgrade family properties. They were sentenced to three years in jail.
Egyptian state and private newspapers ran front page pictures of Mubarak, while state TV showed excerpts from speeches.
This was in stark contrast to the treatment of his successor, Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, who lasted a year in office before the army toppled him. Mursi died last year after collapsing in court while on trial on espionage charges. Egyptian media paid little attention to his death.