20.06.2019 Author: Martin Berger

Are the Concerns Surrounding the Death of Mohamed Morsi Legitimate?


In mid-June, right in the middle of the hearing of his case in a Cairo court, Egypt’s former president, Mohamed Morsi died from a “sudden heart attack.” This was reported by Reuters with a reference to an unnamed source in local medical circles.

In the aftermath of this untimely death, both Egyptian armed forces and security units were put on high alert out of fears that supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood would launch a nation-wide protest. At some point Morsi reached the position of an official leader of this movement and he would only leave it upon becoming a president-elect. Representatives of the movement have already rushed to the conclusion that the death of Morsi was “one hundred percent murder,” claiming that he was assassinated on orders of the sitting Egyptian authorities.

A number of extremist movements, namely Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement have issued statements commenting on the death of the former Egyptian strongman. Hamas announced that Morsi fought for the best interests of Egypt and the Palestinian cause for many years, mounting a formidable opposition to Zionists, while defending Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa. Even to this day Hamas would remain mindful of the assistance that Morsi provided it in repelling the “Zionist aggression” of 2012. In turn, the the Islamic Jihad movement called the deceased Islamist politician a shahid, while recalling the support he provided to the Gaza Strip at the height of Operation Pillar of Defense.

Prior to meeting his untimely demise, Morsi would spend six years out of his twenty year sentence behind the bars on charges of ordering crackdowns, torture and making calls inciting violence. However, even after doing this time in jail he wouldn’t have been released as he had to serve a separate life sentence on charges of spying for Qatar.

Mohammed Morsi led Egypt for a brief period from June 2012 to July 2013. He took charge of his country at the height of the most turbulent period in Egypt’s modern history, on the back of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. But he failed to stabilize the situation, plunging Egypt in a state of perpetual chaos that would only be stopped by local armed elites stepping in to overthrow Morsi. Instead of bringing freedom and democracy to the Egyptian streets, Morsi, just like a great many of post-Arab Spring leaders, would rule his country with an iron hand, making his authoritarian predecessor look like a highly tolerant and reasonable leader. Instead of making attempts to reform political Islam, which would catapult Morsi to the forefront of modern Arab leaders, he would lead the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest political movement in the Arab world, in a confrontation with the old elites, forcing his supporters to take a fight that they couldn’t win.

With Morsi occupying the Heliopolis Palace, Egyptians were forced to face fuel shortages and power outages, whiled the level of unemployment reached 13%. With the Egyptian pound remaining in free fall for months, foreign investors would start to avoid the country all together. On most every week one would observe demonstrations in the majority of large Egyptian cities that would suppressed by the use of indiscriminate force, while crime levels would soar. At the same time, Cairo’s neighbors would start arming radical Islamists across the Sinai, thus instigating an armed insurgency. Never in Egyptian history there has been a time when journalists would be slapped with charges and thrown in jail so easily as during the reign of Mohamed Morsi. The only thing that flourished in this crumbling regional power was nepotism, with Morsi appointing hundreds of his equally faithful and incompetent supporters to high-profile positions in the government.

The eventual overthrow of Mohamed Morsi back in 2013 would be then described as a collapse of political Islam. Therefore, it’s no coincidence that the first foreign politician to comment on Morsi’s demise in his Twitter account was Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan – the modern headliner of political Islam.

It has recently been revealed that Israel and its intelligence agencies played a major part in the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi. This version was confirmed by Brigadier General Aryeh Eldad of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) who claimed that Israel was behind the 2013 military coup that ousted Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president. According to his revelations, Tel-Aviv was convinced that Morsi as a man who represented the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood would walk away from the peace agreement with Israel and send more Egyptian armed forces to the Sinai Peninsula. Then, according to Aryeh Eldad:

Israel was quick and willing to activate its diplomatic tools, and perhaps even greater means, to bring Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to power in Egypt, and convince the then US administration under President Barack Obama not to oppose this move.”

It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that Morsi’s death is the personification of the failure of the Arab Spring movement. According to Die Welt, it’s possible that it will send shock waves across the region, provoking new protests and civil unrest episodes.

A great many sources would express their concern over the conditions in which Morsi was serving his time, as there’s opinions that he didn’t receive the necessary medical assistance. It has been reported that Morsi would be held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, the conditions that can be classified as torture and can easily lead to one’s premature death. In addition, the former Egyptian leader had a number of health conditions including diabetes, liver and kidney diseases that weren’t treated timely or adequately during his time in prison.

As early as in 2014, Morsi’s lawyers would file medical papers confirming that their client was suffering from epilepsy to the court. At one time, Morsi underwent a brain surgery that provoked even more recurring seizures. Lawyers argued that with such a diagnosis, the ex-president could not be held in a solitary prison cell, and insisted that he should be allowed to be held under house arrest.

In a bid to address the criticism voiced against them over the conditions that Morsi was held in, Egyptian authorities and the UN launched an impartial investigation into this matter.

Morsi was buried in the presence of his family members in the Nasr Citt in Cairo.

Despite the fact that certain political forces committed to political instability in Egypt and the region may seek to use the death of Morsi as a pretext for advancing radical extremism, it should be clear for everyone that Morsi’s downfall was inevitable, which means that his fate would have been unenviable either way.

Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” 

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