Hosni Mubarak (b. 1928) was the fourth President of Egypt (1981-2011), and a former Air Force commander and vice president. He ascended to the presidency following the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat by a member of the militant Islamist organization Islamic Jihad. He was reelected in 1987, 1993, 1999, and 2005, the final election marred by supposedly high support for Mubarak but widespread irregularities and low voter turnout.
His early years in office seemed to roll back much of the political repression and corruption of the Sadat regime. He released many of the political opposition leaders, activists, and others who had been arrested under Sadat, and appeared to support a transition to democratic rule. The rise of violent Islamism in the 1990s pitted Mubarak and Egypt’s security and armed forces against one another. Though the public was largely against Islamist groups who used terrorist violence against tourists and public figures, the regime was criticized for its seemingly indiscriminate use of force against any and all political opposition. A common refrain from Mubarak over the past decades has been that he stands in the way of an Islamist political onslaught—particularly towards pro-democracy allies in the West—and using this justification to silence all forms of political dissent.
On January 25, 2011, protestors across Egypt demanded that Mubarak step down from the presidency. Among the protestors’ concerns were the intimations that Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) was facilitating the transfer of the presidency from the aging Hosni Mubarak to his son Gamal Mubarak (including constitutional amendments that would have left Gamal Mubarak practically unchallenged had he run), which recalled the transfer of power from Hafez al-Assad to his son Bashar al-Assad in Syria with the former’s death in 2000. Many Egyptians also blamed Mubarak for deteriorating economic conditions in the country while the president, his family, members of the NDP, and their clients enriched themselves.
Alaa Al-Din Arafat, Hosni Mubarak and the Future of Democracy in Egypt (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).
Tarek Masoud, “The Tyrant’s Brutal Legacy,” Newsweek, July 2, 2012.
Samer Shehata, “After Mubarak, Mubarak?” Current History, Vol. 107, No. 713 (2008), pp. 418-424.
President George W. Bush and Egyptian President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak address the media in Cross Hall at the White House March 5, 2002," White House, Eric Draper, from Wikimedia Commons.