On June 17th 2019, former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi died in a court in Cairo where he suddenly collapsed. Throwback on his life and political career.
Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a senior figure in the now-banned Muslim brotherhood, died on Monday, June 17th after a court hearing in Cairo where he suddenly collapsed while on trial on espionage charges. He was imprisoned since his overthrow in 2013, sentenced to 45 years in prison for various crimes and faced a possible death sentence.
Early life, education and family
Mohamed Morsi, whose full name is Mohamed Mohamed Morsi Issa al-Ayyat, was born on August 8th 1951 in the Sharqia Governorate (in northern Egypt), in the village of El Adwah to a father who was a farmer and a housewife mother. In the late 1960s, he moved to Cairo to study at Cairo University where he earned a BA in engineering with high honors in 1975.
It is worth mentioning that he joined the Muslim brotherhood during his studies in civil engineering at Cairo University. From 1978 to 1985, thanks to a government scholarship, he was able to finish his studies in the United States, where he obtained a PhD in Space Engineering at the University of Southern California.
After graduation, he stayed and taught at California State University until 1985, while also working for NASA in the development of Space Shuttle engines. On a more personal level, he married his cousin Naglaa Ali Mahmoud in 1979; she then joined him on the American continent and worked at the Islamic Centre in California where she devoted herself to the education of young girls. Their first two sons were born in Los Angeles and, as a result, have the US citizenship. It was during his American period that Morsi climbed the hierarchy of the Muslim brotherhood.
A senior figure in the Muslim brotherhood
Since joining the Muslim brotherhood during his studies in Cairo University, Mohamed Morsi gradually became a senior figure in the brotherhood’s organization: responsible for relations with Sudan, director of the section of Foreign Affairs and finally member of the Council of guidance, the highest authority of the movement. In the year 2000, Morsi was first elected to parliament and served there until 2005 and officially as an independent (because the brotherhood was technically barred from running candidates for office under President Hosni Mubarak).
For that reason, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) was created in 2011 by the Muslim brotherhood where Morsi was, by then, a member of the Guidance Office (which elected Morsi to be the first president of the party).
The 2012 road to the presidency
It all started with the Egyptian legislative elections of 2011-2012 which were a success for the FJP that was able to get 38% of the votes and 49% of the seats. In March 2012, the FJP chose to present the candidacy of the charismatic Khairat al-Chater for the Egyptian presidential election in 2012. However, the latter was sentenced to several prison terms under Mubarak and his candidacy was invalidated on April 14th of the same year. This is the moment when the FJP presented the candidacy of Mohamed Morsi who officially became the first civilian President of Egypt on June 24th 2012.
A year after Morsi’s unveiling as President of Egypt on June 30th, millions of Egyptians were protesting in the streets demanding his resignation (14 million according to a military source quoted by Reuters, 17 million according to police sources relayed by the Agency France-Presse).
Deadly protests continued in the following days, while five ministers, as well as the spokesman of the government and a spokesman for Mohamed Morsi all resigned. Following these events, the army addressed an ultimatum to the President asking him to “satisfy the will of the people”, which the latter promptly rejected, calling to form a government of consensus. On July the 3rd, General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, Commander of the Egyptian armed forces, announced the dismissal of Mohamed Morsi and his replacement by the President of the High Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour.
NGOs ask for investigation regarding his death
A number of people and NGOs have suspicions about the real reasons of Morsi’s death. Many believe he died because of poor detention conditions. According to Amnesty International, “The Egyptian authorities have an appalling track record of detaining prisoners in prolonged solitary confinement and in dire conditions as well as subjecting prisoners to torture and other ill-treatment.
This makes it all the more crucial for the authorities to carry out an investigation to determine whether any such ill-treatment was a contributing factor to Mohamed Morsi’s death, and ensuring that those responsible for the violation of his rights are held accountable.”