The Arab Spring has had no shortage of striking images.
Some have been inspiring: Courageous protestors suddenly amassing in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Syria and elsewhere, despite the threat of violence.
Some have been infuriating: Pro-President Hosni Mubarak mobs in Egypt, some on camels, beating protesters in Tahrir Square; a YouTube video of a boy brutally tortured and murdered by the thugs protecting Syria’s homicidal dictator Bashar Assad.
But perhaps the most notable has been the grim, grainy video of Mubarak being wheeled into a Cairo courtroom on a gurney, in a cage, as the first repressive ruler brought to trial by his own people in generations.
The image has riveted Egyptians, as well as many in the pan-Arabic world.
Mubarak loyalists find it deeply humiliating, and have clashed in Cairo streets with anti-government protesters. This week the presiding judge ordered cameras shut off in an effort to quell the violence (as well as to bring more order to the courtroom, where camera-seeking attorneys and witnesses have created chaos).
But just as Mubarak’s Internet shutdown didn’t erase the protest movement, shutting off the cameras won’t erase the image of a once-feared, now-feeble leader having to account for allegations that he was complicit in killing protesters.
Instead, it’s a picture most Egyptians will never forget.
And it’s also one that likely made an impression with Assad, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Yemini President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and other repressive rulers who ignore the will of their citizens.
John Rash is a Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist.
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