World Politics

Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak dies at 91

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Key Points
  • Mubarak spent six years in jail following the 2011 Arab Spring protests but was released after being cleared of most charges including inciting the killing of nearly 900 protesters.
  • Egypt underwent several tumultuous years after the Arab Spring revolts, with a second presidential ouster in 2013 that saw the military remove elected president and Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Morsi.
  • Morsi died in prison in 2019. Egypt's current president is former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
A combo of pictures shows Egyptian demonstrators tearing a huge portrait of President Hosni Mubarak during a protest against his rule in the northern port city of Alexandria on January 27, 2011.
Photo: AFP | Getty Images

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled as president in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising after 30 years of authoritarian rule, died Tuesday, state television said. He was 91 and had been hospitalized for several weeks. 

Mubarak spent six years in jail following the protests, but was released in 2017 by Egypt's highest appeals court, which cleared the majority of charges against him, including inciting the killing of nearly 900 protesters. He was initially sentenced to life in prison in 2012, but an appeals court dismissed that sentence in 2014.

The ousted leader returned to his home in Cairo's upscale Heliopolis district after his release.

Egypt's government has declared three days of mourning for the former president starting Wednesday. 

Mubarak was known for being a U.S. ally and strong opponent of Islamist militancy, with Egypt receiving some $1.5 billion annually in American aid, the second-highest amount of any country after Israel. Between 1948 and 2011, the U.S. sent Egypt roughly $72 billion in bilateral economic and military aid. He largely continued his predecessor Anwar Sadat's policies, including preserving the Camp David accords and diplomatic relations with Israel.

For millions of ordinary Egyptians, however ⁠— particularly for the tens of thousands who protested in Cairo's Tahrir Square in 2011 — Mubarak was a strongman and a dictator, known for arresting his opponents and cracking down on dissent. Human rights organizations for years criticized his harsh measures that included police brutality, arbitrary arrests, torture, lack of freedom of speech and assembly, and political censorship.

A man holds a portrait of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak during a protest against Mubarak's regime, following Friday prayers at the Beyazit square in Istanbul on February 4, 2011.
Photo: Bulent Kilic | Getty Images

Egypt underwent several tumultuous years after the Arab Spring revolts, with numerous terrorist attacks and a second presidential ouster in 2013 that saw the military push aside elected president and Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Morsi. Morsi died in an Egyptian prison in 2019. Egypt's current president since 2014 is former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

While praised by international financial bodies for liberalizing Egypt's economy and improving growth figures for the economy of 98 million people, many rights groups have called el-Sissi worse than Mubarak in terms of his treatment of human rights and civil liberties.

They point to the killing of thousands of opponents and the imprisonment of tens of thousands, including secular activists and Muslim Brotherhood supporters, and sweeping crackdowns on free speech. In April 2019, Egypt's Parliament voted by a comfortable majority to amend the country's constitution, allowing el-Sissi to stay in power for 11 more years. Critics of the changes say the move essentially brings back the days of Mubarak.