An MS in Metallurgical Engineering, a PhD in Material Sciences, former professor of California State University, employee at NASA who helped develop space shuttle engines, leading figure of Muslim Brotherhood, Hafiz e Quran and the first and only democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi died on Monday in a soundproof cage during a trial in the courtroom. He was imprisoned for last six years after his government was dismantled.
Morsi came to power as the fifth president of Egypt in June 2012, one year after the Arab Spring uprising ended President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
Following a military coup led by Egypt’s incumbent dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in July 2013, the deceased leader was forced to leave his office and arrested on different heinous charges. Immediately after the coup d’état, Morsi’s party Muslim Brotherhood had been outlawed and the Egyptian constitution was suspended. In three separate trials, he was sentenced to over 45 years in prison. His supporters had denounced the trials as politically motivated to cover the putsch.
The Brotherhood has termed the death an assassination and called on countrymen all over the world to gather outside Egyptian embassies to protest.
Morsi had a history of ill-health and he was denied proper medical care.
“They placed him in [solitary] confinement throughout his detention which exceeded five years, prevented medicine and provided poor food… They prevented doctors and lawyers and even communicating with his family. They deprived him from the simplest human rights,” said the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice party.
In 2018, a British parliamentary panel report had said the former Egyptian president was being kept in solitary confinement which could be classified as torture. They had warned this could lead to a premature death.
His sudden collapse comes at a time when the United States, on behest of Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, is mulling over designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
The death is certain to inflame passions among his supporters and allies in Egypt and beyond. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described him as a martyr. He blamed Egypt’s “tyrants” for the death.
The government of dictator and strongman Sisi has given the Egyptian military unchecked power.
Crispin Blunt MP, member of the British MPs panel who had warned about Morsi’s health, demanded a reputable independent international probe and said the Egypt’s government had a duty to explain his unfortunate death.
Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa Magdalena Mughrabi said, “Morsi was held in solitary confinement for almost six years, placing a considerable strain on his mental and physical wellbeing. He was cut off from the outside world.”
Human Rights Watch Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson in a tweet said, “Morsi’s death was terrible but entirely predictable.”