GP Insights # 81, 18 June 2019
On 17 June 2019, Egypt’s first freely elected President Mohammed Morsi who was ousted in 2013, collapsed during a court appearance in Cairo and passed away soon after. Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi had been a part of has called the death a “full-fledged murder” by Egypt’s ruling government.
What is the background?
In 2012, Morsi became the President after Arab Spring ended the three decades rule by President Hosni Mubarak. In July 2013, Morsi was ousted and detained by a military coup led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s current President. Later in 2014, the Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed. Morsi, since his imprisonment faced over six trials. At the time of his death, Morsi was serving a twenty years sentence for killings of protestors during 2012 demonstrations and faced charges including involvement in terrorism, jailbreak and insulting the judiciary. The life sentence for espionage in a case concerning Qatar was revoked in 2016. Concerns about the charges being political motivated had since surfaced.
What does it mean?
Throughout the imprisonment, Morsi’s family was only allowed three visits. The first in 2013, second in 2017 and the last in September 2018 in the presence of security forces. Mistreatment of detainees, prison conditions and human rights violations in prisons has remained a huge issue in the Middle East for many years now. Time and again, it has drawn global criticism. As per Morsi’s supporters, denial of medical treatment and solitary confinement for over 23 hours a day (which qualifies for torture according to UN), were for his premature death. The rushed burial against Egyptian traditions in Cairo's Madinat Nasr (and not in Sharqiya, Morsi’s home province) in the middle of the night in the absence of some of his family members points to Emirates’ growing power in Egypt’s domestic matters. Amidst the Saudi-Iran-US standoff, Yemen war, Sudan protests and the Syrian crisis, any eruptions within Egypt would only further disrupt the regional fabric and skew geo-strategic dynamics.
Calls for an independent medical inquiry into Morsi’s death and a mass funeral are soaring. While Amnesty International and HRW called for an investigation, the UN emphasized the need for a thorough probe. Meanwhile, Egypt has blamed the UN of deliberately “politicizing Morsi’s natural death”.