Egypt bids farewell to former president Hosni Mubarak with full-honours funeral

By Samy Magdy, Associated Press

A full-honours military funeral has been held in Egypt for the country’s former autocratic president Hosni Mubarak, who was for decades the face of stability in the Middle East but who was ousted from power in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

Supporters of the former leader, wearing black and carrying posters of him, gathered at the mosque complex in eastern New Cairo where Mr Mubarak’s body was brought for the funeral service.

The funeral, replete with cannon fire and a horse-drawn carriage carrying his coffin, highlighted the wartime achievements of Mr Mubarak. It comes as part of a government effort to make his military career his legacy, rather than his time in office.

Hosni Mubarak, pictured in 2016, was ousted from power during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 (Amr Nabil/AP)

The 91-year-old died on Tuesday at a Cairo military hospital from heart and kidney complications, according to medical documents. He was admitted to hospital on January 21 with intestinal obstruction and underwent surgery, after which he was treated in intensive care.

Egypt’s current President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, attended the funeral at Tantawi Mosque in eastern Cairo briefly, offering condolences and shaking hands with Mr Mubarak’s two sons, Alaa and Gamal, and his wife Suzanne.

The country’s state television channel played footage of Mr Mubarak in his younger, pre-office days, and lauded him for his role as a fighter pilot in the country’s 1973 war with Israel. As president, Mr Mubarak later solidified peace with their one-time enemy.

Mr Mubarak, who held on to the presidency for more than 30 years, carried out a brutal campaign against Islamist militants, but also allowed for minimal political dissent from his opponents.

Supporters hold photos of Hosni Mubarak before his funeral at Tantawi Mosque, in eastern Cairo (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

Under his rule, Egypt’s security branches grew into formidable forces with little civilian oversight, known for their human rights violations. And although he oversaw an opening of the country’s economy, much of the country’s population slid further into poverty during his time in office.

Nonetheless, the former president still enjoys a degree of popularity among many Egyptians, who have painted him as a paternal figure. At the height of the 2011 uprising, his supporters would sometimes violently clash with pro-democracy protesters.

State media reported Mr Mubarak’s body would be buried later on Wednesday at his family’s cemetery in Heliopolis, an upscale Cairo district that was his home for most of his rule and where he lived until his death.