Egypt protests: Mubarak shows his dark side
The counter-revolutionary message to the people from an unvanquished, still vicious regime is: It’s over-go home, or else
by Simon Tisdall

Hosni Mubarak launched his counter-revolution today, sending waves of armed thugs to do battle with pro-democracy demonstrators in Cairo and other cities. The attacks, reportedly involving plainclothes police and vigilantes as well as pro-regime citizens, appeared to be carefully co-ordinated and timed. And the army, which only days earlier had sworn to protect “legitimate” rights of protesters, stood back and watched as the blood flowed.

This ugly turn of events should come as no surprise. What is unusual is that the regime tolerated such levels of unrest for nearly a week.

Mubarak was never quite a dictator in the Saddam Hussein or Robert Mugabe mould. His rule was more akin to the semi-enlightened despotism of an 18th-century European monarch. But at bottom, it always depended on coercion and force. Today, the pretence of reasonableness was torn away. His dark side showed for all to see.

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