Hosni Mubarak was out of touch
KAFR EL-MOSEILHA - When Hosni Mubarak, then an aloof young military officer, returned to his Nile Delta hometown to bury his mother he was so disliked, according to residents, he was told to find another burial site.
"They told him: 'You have nothing left here'," said Sabri Nabawi, a local school principal, giving a history lesson from behind his desk.
The story may be apocryphal, a sign of the changing tide that swept the veteran leader from power, but the residents of Kafr el-Moseilha insist they are as pleased as any other town in Egypt to see Mubarak fall.
Once a small village from where a young Mubarak would set out every morning to attend school several kilometres away, Kafr el-Moseilha is now a large neighbourhood of the sprawling city of Shibin el-Kom.
Mubarak, born in 1928, left the village to go to military academy, from where he ascended to become air force chief and finally president. He would never return to visit, the residents complained.
The closest Mubarak came to visiting since he became president in 1981 was when he announced from Shibin el-Kom in 2005 that he would run for another term. He went to his old school, but stayed clear of Kafr el-Moseilha.
Residents say Mubarak was cold, imposing, like the large fresco of the veteran president that decorates the Hosni Mubarak youth club, next to the Hosni Mubarak school, not far from Hosni Mubarak Street.
"Mubarak always dealt with life like a pilot - always up in the air and distant from the people below. This wouldn't have happened to him if he weren't so distant," Nabawi says.
When it came to fealty to his hometown, Mubarak was very different from his predecessor Anwar Sadat, who built a villa in his and visited regularly.
Some claimed that Mubarak, always seen more as a lacklustre manager than as a charismatic president such as President Gamal Abdel Nasser and Sadat, avoided his town because he hated patronage.
One of several Mubarak relatives still in the town, his second cousin the lawmaker Amin Mubarak, claimed the leader was too busy to visit and hated doling out patronage because he "wanted to avoid corruption".
But others dismissed the idea that Mubarak had too much integrity to help out the town, where many streets were still unpaved.
"Look what he did for his sons," exclaimed Emad Salah, a pharmacist down the road from the Mubarak school, suggesting that anyone who could have shamelessly enriched his family could also have done something for former neighbours.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the Egyptian army will need to stay on the streets until a disgraced police force recovers from the heavy damage inflicted by Egypt's turmoil - an uncomfortable burden for a military designed to fight foreign enemies, not crime.