Mubarak and his family have been under house arrest in the resort town of Sharm El Sheikh since he was forced from power by a popular uprising Feb 11. The thought of the former president staying in a luxury villa on the beach had infuriated many Egyptians. Recently, they had begun to direct that anger toward the military council ruling Egypt until new elections are held.
The head of the military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, spent years as Mubarak's defense minister. Many accused the military Friday of shielding Mubarak from prosecution, and of giving him time to cover his tracks and hide bank accounts and assets. The sentiment at the protest was more directly and widely critical of the military, once seen as the protector of Egypt’s revolution, than it had ever been.
“This is a direct response to the protests,” says Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, political science professor at the American University in Cairo, of the detainment order. “There has been a sort of ultimatum. Unless the president was interrogated by Friday, there would be another escalation of protests.”
An audio recording broadcast Sunday on Saudi television station Al Arabiya, in which Mubarak denied having been involved in corruption or abusing his position for personal gain, only increased the popular anger. It was the first time Egyptians had heard from their former president since his ouster on Feb. 11.