“I think ‘felool’ has evolved a little,” said Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch. Now that they have lived with Mohamed Morsi, the Brotherhood-backed president, some middle- and upper-class Egyptians see Mubarak and his cronies as a lesser evil, she said. Similarly, when Amr Moussa — a former Arab League chief and foreign minister — ran for president in the spring, many refused to vote for him because of his ties to the old regime. Now he’s seen as an increasingly credible opposition figure, she said.
The new constitution bans former leaders of Mubarak’s party from running for office for 10 years. But it leaves the door open to former ministers and rank-and-file members of the now-disbanded National Democratic Party.
‘We will continue to work’
To go from the inner circle of power to the almost irrelevant periphery of a new, Islamist system is a strange thing, the fallen elites say. Some, like Moussa, have staked a claim in the new political scene. Others remain bewildered by their new twilight zone. Very few are repentant.
“They wake up and they have nothing to do,” said Choubachy, who counts several top members of the former regime among his close friends. “It must be terrible.”
On a recent evening at his villa north of Cairo, a dozen elites, including Hawass, gathered on golden sofas, sipping whiskey amid porcelain vases, oil paintings and enormous crystal chandeliers. They talked about the Islamists, sex and religion. They cursed Morsi as they cut a cake.
This month, Egypt’s attorney general, a Morsi appointee, launched a fresh investigation into the Mubarak family and key associates who he alleged had received millions of dollars worth of gifts from al-Ahram during Mubarak’s reign. Mubarak’s attorney quickly reached a plea deal with the prosecution for about $3 million, and other officials reached similar deals, the local media reported.
Rights groups say Mubarak’s generals, who ruled the country during a bumpy year-and-a-half transition, and felool within the legal system actively thwarted the pursuit of justice, convening kangaroo courts for some to appease the public and ignoring allegations against others.
Moussa said he thinks that the courts have done their job and that, as Egypt marks two years since the revolution, it’s time to move on. “We will continue to work because we are adamant to help the country, regardless of these minority voices who talk about the so-called felool,” he said.
Hawass is hopeful, too. “If you walk with me one day in Cairo, you will see how the poor people greet me,” he said. “Everyone wants me to come back.”
Ingy Hassieb and Sharaf al-Hourani contributed to this report.