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Hosni Mubarak profile -

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Hosni Mubarak profile

Broadcast: 04/02/2011

Reporter: Deborah Cornwall

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is just hours away from the deadline set by the country's people
power opposition - stand down or face the consequences.


TRACY BOWDEN, PRESENTER: As we just heard Egyptian president is under intense pressure to step down
now but has history has shown Hosni Mubarak is a fighter.

Deborah Cornwall looks back at his 30-year, ruthless reign.

REPORTER (1981 FOOTAGE): They threw grenades and opened fire with automatic rifles from close
range. As the attackers sprinted towards the president, firing as they ran, security forces
returned their fire and the watching crown dived for safety.

DEBORAH CORNWALL, REPORTER: It was the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981 that swept
Hosni Mubarak to power, in sudden and extraordinary circumstances.

AMERICAN REPORTER (1981 FOOTAGE): A form of limited Marshall Law has been imposed for the next year
and all mass meetings banned.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: But three decades on, Mubarak still rules under emergency law. His brutal regime
so out of step and now, out of time, anarchy is engulfing the nation.

A hero of the Yom Kippur war, from the outset Mubarak ruthlessly repressed any opposition from the
Islamist movement

But Middle East observers say the former air force chief did at least deliver the appearance of
stability and prosperity in the early years of his presidency

Mubarak strode the world stage, America's best friend and the most powerful president, in the most
powerful country in the Arab world.

In return for Egypt's commitment to the Israeli Peace Treaty and continuing secular rule, billions
in US aid helped prop up the economy

attract a lot of hope, both at home and outside.

These sorts of hopes, by the end of the first ten years they started to vanish.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: In a country of 80 million people, mostly Muslim, Mubarak's closeness to the west
never made him popular on the Arab street.

And by the mid '90s, say observers, the regime was showing the first clear signs of unravelling.

After surviving an assassination attempt Mubarak stepped up his attacks on the largest opposition
group in the country, The Muslim Brotherhood.

HOSNI MUBARAK, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT: Whoever thinks of creating troubles without any reason in this
country I'll be very strict.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: A series of terrorist attacks in Egypt, followed by the global War on Terror,
quickly escalated into an unprecedented crack down on civil liberties.

PROTESTERS CHANTING (Subtitled): Freedom where are you? Speak up louder and louder against the
regime that's cutting our throats.

HOSNI MUBARAK (Subtitled): 90 per cent of what is written in the press is built on innuendo. This
damages the national economy.

GENNARO GERVASIO: Tortures became a daily practice, not only of the Islamist oppositions and people
being kidnapped, that was the sort of the, let's say, the common song in the last five, six years
of the 90s.

And in this respect he started to be quite deaf to the outside and internal calls for more

DEBORAH CORNWALL: At the same time, liberalisation of the Egyptian economy had created a growing
expectation of democratic reform

The widening gap between the country's rich and poor was also biting hard, devastating the hopes of
an increasingly educated middle class, while leaving an estimated 40 per cent of the country living
under the poverty line.

DR ROBERT BOWKER, FORMER AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR TO EGYPT: Mubarak failed to appreciate that Egyptian
society was changing. That it was no longer the largely illiterate, poorly nourished, ill organised
body of Egyptians that he came to lead by happenstance in 1981.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: Once again Mubarak attempted to mollify an increasingly restive population,
ushering in a series of constitutional changes which led to the country's first democratic
elections in 2005.

HOSNI MUBARAK (Subtitled): This election I am sure will be free, will be transparent, open and

DEBORAH CORNWALL: But after raising expectations, the election proved a sham, delivering Mubarak a
huge majority.

ROBERT BOWKER: And that simply did not wash with younger generation of Egyptians who could see
through this and felt offended by it.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: Mubarak's declaration, a year later, that he would continue to lead his country
until his last breath, led to growing speculation his son, Gamal, was being groomed for succession.

GAMAL MUBARAK: Egypt has always been a beacon ....

DEBORAH CORNWALL: A move that incensed Egyptians, even Mubarak supporters.

ROBERT BOWKER: People felt they were being treated like they were Syrians, was the common
expression. That they deserved better than being given a dynasty of Mubaraks.

It acted as something of a lightning rod for that anger.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: When the country's parliamentary elections, last November, delivered an even more
overwhelming victory to Mubarak, cries of open ballot rigging and intimidation were again met with
deadly force.

For ordinary Egyptians, it was the final insult.

GENNARO GERVASIO: In the last hope were the elections. After the disappointment the rage was the
only mounting.