Egypt’s first democratically elected civilian president, Mohamed Morsi, collapsed on 1 June 2019, during a court session and died, approximately six years after he was forced to be out of power in a coup.

According to state media, the senior figure in the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, was attending a session in his trial on espionage charges on Monday when he blacked out and died.

Egyptian state newspaper al-Ahram, referring to Morsi’s retrial for allegedly spying for the Palestinian Islamist organisation Hamas, reported:

 “After the case was adjourned, he fainted and died. His body was then transferred to the hospital.”

Egypt’s public prosecutor said Morsi, aged 67, was pronounced dead on arrival at a Cairo hospital, after he fainted inside the defendants “cage” in the courtroom. According to the statement of Nabil Sidiq; the cause of death was being investigated but there were no visible, recent external injuries on the body of the deceased.

The Brotherhood accused the government of “assassinating” Morsi through years of poor prison conditions, and called on Egyptians to gather for a mass funeral.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, angrily reacted to the news of Morsi’s death. In a televised speech, he said:

“History will never forget those tyrants who led to his death by putting him in jail and threatening him with execution.”

Morsi became president in 2012, following Egypt’s first and only free elections after the dictator Hosni Mubarak was forced from power. He won 51.7% of the vote and his rule marked the peak of power for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood; an underground political organisation.

The time of his power was cut short a year later as demonstrators once again took to the streets, this time to protest against Morsi’s rule and demand fresh elections. Egypt’s military seized power in a coup on 3 July 2013; bringing the then defence minister, Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi, to power.

As president, Sisi has overseen an extensive crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and anyone suspected of supporting the group; which Egypt now considers as a terrorist organisation.

Morsi was arrested after the 2013 coup and had faced trial on three separate counts; leaking state secrets to Qatar, killing protesters during a sit-in outside the presidential palace, and spying for Hamas.

He received multiple long sentences, including a life sentence for spying for Qatar and a 20-year sentence for killing protesters. He also got a death sentence for charges relating to a mass jailbreak during the revolution but was then overturned in a retrial in November 2016.

Morsi was subject to retrial in several cases, and was also sentenced to a further two years in prison and fined 2 million Egyptian pounds in 2017 for insulting the judiciary.

Morsi’s supporters met an even worse fate; on 14 August 2013, Egyptian security forces raided two protest encampments that had been set up in Cairo to demand that Morsi be reinstated. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 1,150 were killed in five separate incidents when Egyptian forces opened fire on protesters.

The former president, who had a history of ill health including diabetes and liver and kidney disease, was held in solitary confinement in Tora prison in Cairo. In 2018, a panel of three British parliamentarians reported that Morsi was being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, with just one hour allowed for exercise. Crispin Blunt, who led the UK group, called for an investigation into Morsi’s death. He stated:

“The Egyptian government has a duty to explain his unfortunate death and there must be proper accountability for his treatment in custody.”

Morsi’s supporters said his death was not a surprise. Wael Haddara, a former adviser, speaking from Canada, said:

“We had been expecting the worst for some time. In many ways, this was the expected result of the military’s actions…But he was a friend, and a symbol for many Egyptians, so it’s painful.”

This surely is a tragic news. We all should take a minute to pray and recite Surah fatiha for the deceased. May Allah (SWT) forgive us all. Ameen.

See also: Duas for the deceased

Source: The Guardian

The author

Rida Ghaffar