For former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak loyalists, his downfall was a shock and a humiliation. A year later, they still miss their president and watch with bitterness the political upheaval in an Egypt they no longer recognize.
Just how many people still support the former president of 30 years is difficult to estimate. Some are clear about their allegiance, belonging to groups called “the children of Mubarak,” others are more discreet.
For Suad Abdel Nabi, it’s emotional.
“He’s the only president I’ve known. I grew up considering him like a father and, yes, I miss him very much,” the 33-year-old Cairene said.
“We used to watch him on television talking to everyone on national holidays, including to the farmers. For me, he was someone good,” she said.
Abdel Nabi was “devastated” when she saw the former ruler, 83, lying on a stretcher as he was wheeled into court to face charges of involvement in the killing of hundreds of protesters during the uprising that toppled him.
“How did we get there? It was very painful to watch and I get very angry when I hear people say he’s pretending, because he’s not like that,” she said.
Many like her complain of the insecurity that has swept the country since Mubarak’s downfall, fearing Egypt is falling apart.
“For 30 years, he ensured stability with the outside world, avoiding a new war with Israel, and at home too,” said Dalia, a government employee.
“I was against his resignation because I didn’t want the Muslim Brotherhood. I was worried about the economy, tourism, and my fears have been confirmed. It’s even worse with the Salafists,” she said.
The uprising paved the way for the country’s first ever free and democratic parliamentary elections, which saw Islamist groups dominate almost three-quarters of the assembly.
The powerful Muslim Brotherhood, long banned under Mubarak, won almost half the seats followed by the ultra-conservative Salafists.
Dalia believes that many of the protesters’ demands last year were “legitimate,” but says that Mubarak “did many good things, we mustn’t forget that.”
She says she only joined one pro-Mubarak rally, because she is “against protests in general.”
For several months Mubarak supporters took to Mustafa Mahmud square in central Cairo, holding up pictures of the fallen strongman and insisting they were “the real Egyptians!”
However, at one of their latest demonstrations, they clashed with anti-Mubarak protesters, prompting intervention by the security forces.
On Facebook, groups called “We are sorry, President” and “The children of Mubarak” have multiplied to pay homage to the “guide, the father, the brother, the symbol,” with members ranging from the hundreds to the thousands.
Electronic responses are swiftly organized with counter groups calling themselves “We are not at all sorry, president” or “We are sorry we didn’t topple you sooner.”