Story by Risa Peris
Former President Mohammed Morsi died in court recently. He was president for one year until ousted by the government in 2013. Morsi was 67. Morsi was the first democratically elected leader in Egypt. Morsi was largely backed by the Muslim Brotherhood. They are calling his death murder.
Morsi had Diabetes and other health problems and seemed to be denied medicine and medical attention. He had been held in solitary confinement. Morsi was charged with coordinating with Hamas, which has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi had faced many trials, which he said were politically motivated. He rejected the authority of Egypt’s government.
Human rights groups complained about Morsi’s treatment. The Muslim Brotherhood has seemed diligent in denouncing Morsi’s treatment. Turkey and Qatar have condemned his death.
Morsi came to power during the Arab Spring. However, he was backed by the Muslim Brotherhood with complicated political and religious leanings. Millions of Egyptians protested his leadership in 2013, less than a year after he was elected. The military then crackdown on his supporters.
Morsi is a demonstration of the complexity of the Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Middle East politics. Morsi’s death is being condemned as a human rights violation.
Would Morsi have been good for Egypt if he had stayed in power? Would Egypt have liberalized its politics? Any answers would be speculations but Morsi was unpopular when ousted from office and now the current leader of Egypt, El-Sisi, came to power by coup. Interestingly, he was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Trump on becoming president and vowed to solidify connections between the two countries. I don’t know what this means for Egypt but it is further proof that Trump is all too eager to align himself with dictators.
The Muslim Brotherhood is a Sunni group founded in 1928. It has been an entrenched opposition force in Egypt for decades. There have been many efforts to stifle the group over the decades. The group was legalized following the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. They backed Morsi in the first democratic election.
Trump wants to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, no doubt encouraged by El-Sisi. But the group has a history of non-violence and its initial purpose was missionary. The US State Department found no legal basis for declaring them a terrorist group. Since Morsi’s arrest back in 2013 Egypt has arrested and imprisoned thousands of members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Jamal Khashoggi, the executed journalist by Saudi Arabia, stated, “The eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes.”
Morsi, while a product of the Arab Spring is now a victim of the largely failed Arab Spring that spread throughout the Middle East many years ago. He was democratically elected and should have been democratically removed. He should not have been removed by a coup and placed in prison. It’s egregious that the US backs modern Egypt and El-Sisi.