Mubarak’s legal roller coaster
Arabic media review

Mubarak’s legal roller coaster

Acquitted of murdering protesters, former Egyptian president remains in custody on new corruption charges while his health deteriorates; mufti of Tunisia lashes out at 'jihad marriages'

Egypt's deposed president Hosni Mubarak attends a hearing session in his retrial on appeal in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, April 15, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Ahmed Gomaa)
Egypt's deposed president Hosni Mubarak attends a hearing session in his retrial on appeal in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, April 15, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Ahmed Gomaa)

Deposed former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s dizzying collection of legal woes is taking an increasingly severe toll on his health and igniting fierce divisions among those he used to rule, Arab dailies report.

The London-based Al-Hayat’s cover story, “Mubarak gets unwell during questioning,” relates that Saturday afternoon an Egyptian court canceled his detention on graft charges related to his personal wealth, which at various points during his rule was as high as $40 billion. Earlier this month, Mubarak’s trial on charges of responsibility for the deaths of protesters during the 2011 revolution was postponed indefinitely.

However, the euphoria over his impending release quickly dissipated when, half an hour later, new corruption charges were leveled against him related to “the seizure of public funds in the construction of his presidential palaces.” Mubarak was ordered held in detention for another 15 days while the prosecution builds the case against him.

The Dubai-based media channel Al-Arabiya reveals that “Mubarak and Egypt’s former housing minister, Ibrahim Soliman, are accused of squandering public funds worth 2 billion Egyptian pounds through facilitating the takeover of a 3,000-square-kilometer plot of land near the Cairo-Ismailia road, which had been supervised by the General Authority for Rehabilitation Projects and Agricultural Development.”

The see-sawing of Mubarak’s fate and the subsequent questioning by investigators related to the latest case caused the former president’s blood pressure to rise dramatically. He was treated by a nearby emergency medical team.

According to the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, in order to calm Mubarak down, “the court allowed his son Gamal, jailed in the same prison, to enter his room and sit with him.” Gamal, once thought to be his father’s successor as president of Egypt, reportedly tried to cheer up the elder Mubarak by pointing out that the court continues to consider his appeals.

Mubarak has sparked bitter divisions within Egypt. While pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters showed their fury over his de facto acquittal in the killing of demonstrators, many Egyptians see things differently: “The regime run by the Muslim Brotherhood has made the public incredibly sympathetic to the plight of Mubarak” and he still has tremendous backing by a significant margin of the populace, the report said.

In addition to his disagreements with the Egyptian judiciary over the fate of Mubarak, current Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is facing an uphill battle in keeping the country on stable political and economic footing. The Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat notes “the crises facing Egypt today have become large and deep. It seems clear to everyone that the problems facing Egypt are greater than the capacity of the Muslim Brotherhood to manage them.”

‘Jihad marriage is prostitution’

The Grand Mufti of Tunisia, Othman Battikh, has banned the transportation of young Tunisian girls to Syria to serve as “jihad brides” for Tunisian men fighting the regime of Bashar Assad.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports that 16 Tunisian girls “were lured and sent to Syria to be sexually exploited under the name of jihad marriage.” Battikh held a press conference yesterday calling jihad marriages “a severe form of prostitution and utterly morally reprehensible. This is especially repugnant considering Tunisian women must remain chaste and keep their honor.”

The phenomenon of jihad brides came about after a radical Saudi preacher named Mohammed Arifi allegedly said that jihad marriage was holy and important for the morale of those fighting the jihad in Syria. In response, Battikh objected to the notion that the fight in Syria is a jihad at all.

“A Muslim does not fight against another Muslim,” he said. Battikh denounced the Salafi ideologues who “exploit the difficult living conditions of young Tunisians and convince them to fight the Syrian regular troops under the banner of ‘jihad.'”

A March 15 report in the Tunis-based “Sunrise” newspaper reported that Qatar is paying up to the $3,000 to every Tunisian man who fights for the rebels in Syria. About 3,500 Tunisian men are believed to have taken up the offer. It is unknown how many Tunisian women have been smuggled to the civil war-battered country to serve as “jihad brides.”

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