avineri42_Sean GallupGetty Images_hosnimubarakegypt Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The Two Faces of Pharaoh

Hosni Mubarak was an autocratic ruler, under whom radical opposition – especially Islamic – was not tolerated. But his repressive rule was a modest affair compared to that of other Arab leaders, and his maintenance of the peace treaty with Israel delivered real benefits to ordinary Egyptians.

JERUSALEM – The Roman historian Sallust remarked that the way states are established determines how they are ruled. This dictum can be applied to individual rulers as well. Moreover, in many cases, the way a ruler’s power ends determines how his rule will be remembered.

This seems to be the case with former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was deposed in the wake of a massive popular uprising against his rule, which was characterized as authoritarian, oppressive, corrupt, and nepotistic.

To be sure, Mubarak was an autocratic ruler, under whom radical opposition – especially Islamic – was not tolerated. Elections were shams, a hierarchical form of government controlled the population through a plethora of secret services (“the Mukhabarat state”), and the system with which he was identified was anything but free.

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