Egyptian Grad Student Follows Mubarak's Trial On TV
MELISSA BLOCK, host: There were clashes outside the courtroom today. People threw rocks and bottles as riot police tried to separate Mubarak opponents and supporters. Those divisions are reflected far more peacefully in the family of Sherif Aziz. He's a graduate student who took part in the protests in Tahrir Square that let to Mubarak's downfall. Sherif Aziz watched the start of the trial today on state television at home with his mother, like him, a Mubarak opponent, and with his father, a Mubarak supporter.
We reached Aziz on a rough Skype connection and I asked him for his thoughts as he watched the former ruler in that courtroom cage.
SHERIF AZIZ: This is a good thing, that he's on trial and he actually went on trial. He didn't have like a coma or something before it or he didn't (unintelligible). He actually came to Cairo to the trial with his sons. This is a good thing . This is a progress. But actually, I didn't feel any seriousness in his or his son's faces. You know, like, there wasn't any stress on them. They were smiling after the trial.
They were shaking hands with the police commoners and the army commoners, smiling and waving to the - I mean, the - I didn't feel it as much serious as it needed to be.
BLOCK: Was there a part of you, Mr. Aziz, that thought, I never thought this day would come when I would see Hosni Mubarak lying in a hospital bed in a cage in court on trial for crimes?
AZIZ: Well, I never, in my life, imagined that this day can even come - even close to coming.
BLOCK: And what about your mother? Like you, was a Mubarak opponent.
AZIZ: Yeah, she's a Mubarak opponent. She thinks that he ruined the country, that he deserves to be tried and condemned to death.
BLOCK: Condemned to death. And do you share that view? Would you want to see Hosni Mubarak executed?
AZIZ: Well, I'm not - I'm against execution, but actually, he deserves it because there are thousands of injured and dead people because of him.
BLOCK: Now, what about your father, who was also watching with you? He, I gather, is a Mubarak supporter. What was he thinking as he watched this today?
AZIZ: Well, it's not just about Mubarak. He's a supporter of the old regime. He thinks that now Egypt's in chaos and he was - even though he was stealing from the country, but the country was running okay. There was security. People were living their life, even though there were poor people. But he was protecting the country. And now he thinks that now we are living in chaos and Egyptian people don't know democracy and they only need dictatorship.
BLOCK: Do you remember anything your father said today as he watched this unfold and watched Hosni Mubarak in this cage in court?
AZIZ: He was saying that there is no hope for this country and it's total chaos now.
BLOCK: Hmm. When you talked to your friends today, Mr. Aziz, what did they say about this event, the televised event?
AZIZ: Egyptians are very emotional people, so when they saw the former president who was standing tall for 30 years and saying that I'm ruling the country and he pretended to be the father of the Egyptian people, so it kind of rested in our minds that he is the father. There are lots of Egyptians who are now with the president who doesn't want him to get trial. Not because he's not - he didn't do anything wrong, but because he's like a father to us. They're saying that.
BLOCK: And do you share any of that feeling, that sympathy for him as a father figure?
AZIZ: No, no, no. Not at all.
BLOCK: Not at all.
AZIZ: He's just - he's a person. He did something wrong. He should be tried on.
BLOCK: I'm curious, Mr. Aziz, what the symbolism is of this day for you and for your fellow activists who went to Tahrir Square during those days in revolution.
AZIZ: This symbolizes, like, everything we went for from the 21st of January until, like, two days ago. Thirty years ago, no one even had - even dared to speak. No one can go out in the streets and say no to Mubarak, no to anyone. Now, we have the courage to say that. And actually, now we know that if the people want something, they can get it, whatever it is. We - we made him resign and then we made him on trial and that's an achievement. That's never happened in the Arab world. It's the first time.
BLOCK: Well, Sherif Aziz, thanks so much for talking with us today. We appreciate it.
AZIZ: You're welcome. Thank you.
BLOCK: Sherif Aziz, talking with us from Cairo.
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