CAIRO: Egypt´s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi paid his respects Wednesday at the military funeral of former leader Hosni Mubarak, whose three decades of strong-arm rule ended in the Arab...
CAIRO: Egypt´s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi paid his respects Wednesday at the military funeral of former leader Hosni Mubarak, whose three decades of strong-arm rule ended in the Arab Spring protests of 2011.
The presidential office declared three days of mourning for the veteran head of state dubbed a modern-day "pharaoh", who died aged 91 in a Cairo military hospital Tuesday after years spent in relative seclusion. Mubarak´s mixed legacy is that of an autocrat who ran a police state, employed emergency powers and rigged elections, and of a guarantor of stability who battled Islamist militants and kept close ties with Western powers.
The funeral focused not on Mubarak´s political legacy but on the military career of the Soviet-trained fighter pilot who commanded Egypt´s air force during the 1973 war with Israel. A military helicopter delivered Mubarak´s coffin, which was draped in an Egyptian flag and then mounted on horse-drawn carriage at Cairo´s Mosheer Tantawi mosque.
Sisi led the military procession, flanked by the state´s top religious and political figures. Officers carried Mubarak´s war medals and cannons fired a 21-shot salute before the coffin was later lowered into the ground in the family cemetery in Heliopolis in east Cairo.
Sisi, who did not address the ceremony, shook hands with Mubarak´s mournful sons Alaa and Gamal, who were recently cleared of corruption charges. Dozens of Mubarak supporters came to mourn, among them Tharwat Hassan, 59, an office manager from Menufiyah, the governorate Mubarak hailed from.
"He lived to see the day his sons were cleared," Hassan said. He then pointed to torrential rains that drenched Cairo early this week, saying it was "as if the skies were crying for him". "Hosni Mubarak was not just a statesman, he was the true embodiment of the state." "Mubarak in God´s hands," read the front-page headline of state newspaper Al Ahram, with a black stripe cutting across a photograph of the veteran ruler.
The funeral was carried live on local television channels, where prominent commentators praised Mubarak´s legacy in glowing tones. The former air force chief and vice president became head of state in 1981 after Islamist militants assassinated his predecessor Anwar Sadat during a military parade.