Mohammed Morsi was a former president of Egypt and a longtime member of the Muslim Brotherhood.“Profile: Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi,” BBC News, last modified December 18, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-18371427. Morsi was active in establishing the Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), in 2011.“Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood sets up new party,” BBC News, April 30, 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13249434. In June 2012, Morsi became Egypt’s first president to win a competitive election, as a candidate on the FJP ticket. His year-long presidency was characterized by power struggles with the Egyptian military and the promotion of authoritarian rule and a Muslim Brotherhood-backed conservative agenda.Laura Smith-Spark, “The rise and rapid fall of Egypt’s Mohamed Morsy,” CNN, July 4, 2013, http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/02/world/meast/egypt-morsy-profile/index.html. The Egyptian military ousted Morsi from the presidency on July 3, 2013, and arrested him along with other Muslim Brotherhood leaders.“Profile: Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi,” BBC News, last modified December 18, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-18371427. Morsi died on June 17, 2019. He was serving an Egyptian prison sentence of 48 years for charges relating to spying, killing of protesters, and insulting the judiciary.“First sentence confirmed against Egypt’s Morsi,” Deutsche Welle, October 22, 2016, http://www.dw.com/en/first-sentence-confirmed-against-egypts-morsi/a-36121320; Adham Youssef, “Former Egypt president Mohamed Morsi found guilty of insulting judiciary,” Guardian (London), December 30, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/30/egypt-mohamed-morsi-guilty-of-insulting-judiciary; Jared Malsin, “Egypt’s Ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi Has Died,” Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/egypt-s-ousted-islamist-president-mohammed-morsi-has-died-11560789900.
Morsi was born in El-Adwah, Sharqia Governorate, Egypt, in 1951. He was raised in the village of El-Adwah on the Nile River by his father, a farmer, and his mother, a homemaker. Morsi moved to Cairo in 1975 to pursue a degree in engineering. After working as a chemical warfare technician in the Egyptian military, Morsi continued his education, receiving a master’s degree in engineering from Cairo University and then a Ph.D. in material sciences from the University of Southern California.“Profile: Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi,” BBC News, April 21, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-18371427; “Mohamed Morsy Fast Facts,” CNN, August 25, 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2012/12/28/world/meast/mohamed-morsy---fast-facts/index.html. There are records that Morsi worked with NASA on their space shuttle program in the early 1980s, though Morsi now disputes this.“Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Caught in Lie about Working for NASA,” MEMRI TV, January 11, 2013, http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/3712.htm. In 1985, he returned to Egypt to work as a professor at Zagazig University in Lower Egypt.“Mohamed Morsy Fast Facts,” CNN, August 25, 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2012/12/28/world/meast/mohamed-morsy---fast-facts/index.html. Beginning in 2000, Morsi served as a member of the Egyptian parliament, but lost his bid for re-election in 2005. In 2006, Morsi spent seven months in jail as a political prisoner under Mubarak’s regime.“Mohamed Morsy Fast Facts,” CNN, August 25, 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2012/12/28/world/meast/mohamed-morsy---fast-facts/index.html.
The 18-day uprising that led to the end of then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s 29-year authoritarian regime began on January 25, 2011. Three days later, Mubarak’s security forces led a crackdown on protesters, arresting Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood members for their alleged participation in anti-Mubarak activities.Erin Cunningham, “Ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi is referred for third trial,” Washington Post, December 21, 2013, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/ousted-egyptian-president-mohamed-morsi-is-referred-to-third-trial/2013/12/21/9c835b62-6a69-11e3-a0b9-249bbb34602c_story.html. On January 29, 2011, Hamas, Hezbollah, and local militants reportedly stormed the Wadi el-Natround prison complex. Thousands broke free from the complex during the unrest, during which several prisoners and police officers died. The militants appeared to free 40 members of Hamas and Hezbollah and 34 Brotherhood leaders, including Morsi.Associated Press, “Egypt Court: Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, And Hezbollah Broke President Morsi Out Of Jail in 2011,” Business Insider, June 23, 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/how-president-morsi-got-out-of-jail-in-2011-2013-6. Morsi would later be charged in 2013 of conspiring with Hamas and Hezbollah to orchestrate the prison break, though he claimed he was freed by local residents.Associated Press, “Egypt Court: Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, And Hezbollah Broke President Morsi Out Of Jail in 2011,” Business Insider, June 23, 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/how-president-morsi-got-out-of-jail-in-2011-2013-6.
Following popular protests, Mubarak resigned on February 11, 2011. In April 2011 and in the aftermath of the popular revolt, the Muslim Brotherhood established the FJP as a civil group, led by Morsi.“Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood sets up new party,” BBC News, April 30, 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13249434. Although the FJP initially claimed it would not run a candidate for the presidency, the group put Morsi on its presidential ticket after its first choice, Khairat el-Shater, was disqualified from running.David D. Kirkpatrick, “Named Egypt’s Winner, Islamist Makes History,” New York Times, June 24, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/world/middleeast/mohamed-morsi-of-muslim-brotherhood-declared-as-egypts-president.html. In November 2011, the FJP won a plurality of seats in the parliamentary elections, and in June 2012, Morsi won nearly 52 percent of the presidential vote in a close runoff with retired air force commander Ahmed Shafiq.“Egypt’s Islamist parties win elections to parliament,” BBC News, January 21, 2012, accessed May 30, 2014, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16665748; David D. Kirkpatrick, “Named Egypt’s Winner, Islamist Makes History,” New York Times, June 24, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/world/middleeast/mohamed-morsi-of-muslim-brotherhood-declared-as-egypts-president.html. During the first few months of Morsi’s presidency, the military and the Muslim Brotherhood engaged in a power struggle for legitimacy and ultimate control of the government. On August 12, 2012, Morsi forced military chiefs into retirement and nullified the constitutional declaration that the military issued before his election.“Timeline of Turmoil in Egypt from Mubarak and Morsi to Sisi,” New York Times, accessed February 21, 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/07/02/world/middleeast/03egypt-timeline-morsi.html#/#time259_7567.
On November 22, 2012, Morsi issued an “interim Constitution declaration,” which granted him broad powers.“Morsy issues new constitutional declaration,” Egypt Independent (Cairo), November 22, 2012, http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/morsy-issues-new-constitutional-declaration. Angry demonstrators gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest against Morsi’s expansive powers, resulting in clashes between Brotherhood supporters and anti-Morsi protesters.Abdel-Rhaman Hussein, “Egypt: protesters descend on Tahrir Square,” Guardian (London), November 27, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/nov/27/egypt-protesters-descend-tahrir-square. The demonstrations became increasingly violent in the following month and in the first week of December, street battles in front of the presidential palace left five dead.Abdel-Rhaman Hussein, “Egypt violence worsens as five die in Cairo clashes,” Guardian (London), December 6, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/dec/06/egypt-violence-worsens-five-die. By the beginning of 2013, the army warned Morsi that the increased political riots might lead to the fall of the state.“Profile: Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi,” BBC News, last modified December 18, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-18371427.
Egypt’s economy continued to falter, Morsi’s leadership allowed social policies of the past to erode, and the political dominance of the Muslim Brotherhood prompted fears of an Islamist takeover.“Timeline of Turmoil in Egypt from Mubarak and Morsi to Sisi,” New York Times, accessed February 21, 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/07/02/world/middleeast/03egypt-timeline-morsi.html#/#time259_7567. On June 30, 2013, in one of the biggest demonstrations since unrest began in November 2012, millions participated in mass street protests calling for Morsi’s ouster.“Timeline of Turmoil in Egypt from Mubarak and Morsi to Sisi,” New York Times, accessed February 21, 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/07/02/world/middleeast/03egypt-timeline-morsi.html#/#time259_7567. On July 3, 2013, the military deployed onto the streets of Egypt and overthrew Morsi. The army stated that the Supreme Constitutional Court would take over presidential powers and that Morsi’s constitutional revisions had been suspended."Abigail Hauslohner, William Booth, and Sharaf al-Hourani, “Egyptian military ousts Morsi, suspends constitution,” Washington Post, July 3, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/egypts-morsi-defiant-under-pressure-as-deadline-looms/2013/07/03/28fda81c-e39d-11e2-80eb-3145e2994a55_story.html.
In December 2013, Morsi was charged with espionage and sponsoring terrorism. The prosecutor general also charged Morsi with leading the Muslim Brotherhood in training jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula.Abdel Halim H. Abdullah, “Prosecutor general orders Morsi tried for espionage along with Brotherhood leaders,” Egypt News Daily, December 18, 2013, http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/12/18/prosecutor-general-orders-morsi-tried-for-espionage-along-with-brotherhood-leaders/.
On February 17, 2015, Morsi and fellow Muslim Brotherhood senior leaders el-Shater and Mohammed Badie were referred to a military court. The move was reportedly part of a continued crackdown on the Brotherhood.“Deposed Egyptian president Mursi to face military court,” Reuters, February 17, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/17/us-egypt-court-idUSKBN0LL1JX20150217. The three were charged with murder, attempted murder, assaulting soldiers, and burning churches in Suez City. The incidents reportedly killed 31 civilians and wounded 34 soldiers.“Deposed Egyptian president Mursi to face military court,” Reuters, February 17, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/17/us-egypt-court-idUSKBN0LL1JX20150217.
On May 16, 2015, an Egyptian court handed Morsi the death sentence for his role in the mass prison break in 2011. Many additional charges—such as inciting violence and sharing state secrets with Qatar during his presidency—had been leveled against him.“Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s ex-leader, sentenced to death,” BBC News, May 16, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32763215. Shortly after Morsi won the 2012 election, Qatar provided $2.5 billion in financial aid to Egypt. During Morsi’s presidency, Qatar committed to transferring $5 billion in both loans and grants to Cairo.Associated Press, “Qatar Doubles Aid to Egypt,” New York Times, January 8, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/world/middleeast/qatar-doubles-aid-to-egypt.html. On June 16, 2015, an Egyptian court upheld the death sentence. The head judge said, “The court panel has unanimously agreed that there is no room for leniency or mercy for the defendants.”Heba Habib and Brian Murphy, “Egyptian court upholds death sentence against former president Morsi,” Washington Post, June 16, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/former-egyptian-president-morsi-sentenced-to-life-in-latest-blows/2015/06/16/cdc28020-1410-11e5-89f3-61410da94eb1_story.html. Morsi's legal team filed an appeal in August 2015.“Egypt's deposed president Mursi appeals death sentence: lawyer,” Reuters, August 15, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/15/usegypt-court-idUSKCN0QK0BK20150815..
On November 15, 2016, an Egyptian court overturned Morsi’s death sentence and ordered a retrial in relation to his role in the 2011 prison break.Reuters, “Mohamed Morsi death sentence overturned,” Guardian (London), November 15, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/15/mohamed-morsi-death-sentence-overturned. On November 22, Morsi won another appeals victory when the same court overturned a life sentence he received on charges of spying for Iran and Hamas.Agence France-Presse, “Egypt court quashes Morsi life sentence over Hamas espionage,” Times of Israel, November 22, 2016, https://www.timesofisrael.com/egypt-court-quashes-morsi-life-sentence-over-hamas-espionage/. Addressing the final appeal from Morsi’s legal team, the court ruled in September 2017 to reduce Morsi’s sentence for spying for Qatar from the initial 40 years to 25 years in prison.“Egypt court sentences Mursi to 25 years in Qatar spy case,” Reuters, September 16, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-court/egypt-court-sentences-mursi-to-25-years-in-qatar-spy-case-idUSKCN1BR0ES.
On June 17, 2019, Morsi was on trial on espionage charges when he collapsed in the courtroom. He was pronounced dead hours later.Jared Malsin, “Egypt’s Ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi Has Died,” Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/egypt-s-ousted-islamist-president-mohammed-morsi-has-died-11560789900. Egyptian media reported that Morsi had suffered a heart attack, but human rights organizations questioned the cause of death. According to Human Rights Watch, Morsi had repeatedly complained that he did not have access to the medicines he needed for his diabetes and liver disease during his six years of solitary confinement. On June 18, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an impartial investigation into Morsi’s prison conditions.Sudarsan Raghavan and Claire Parker, “U.N. joins call for independent probe into death of Egypt’s ousted president Morsi,” Washington Post, June 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/egypts-ousted-president-morsi-buried-in-cairo-after-controversial-courtroom-death/2019/06/18/d4f0988a-919f-11e9-b570-6416efdc0803_story.html?utm_term=.8841534593d5. The Muslim Brotherhood accused the Egyptian government of murdering Morsi, while the government accused the United Nations of politicizing Morsi's death.“Mohammed Morsi: Egypt accuses UN of ‘politicising’ death,” BBC News, June 19, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-48689563.
Morsi was married to his first cousin, Naglaa Ali Mahmoud. Two of their five children were born in the United States and hold U.S. citizenship.Mayy El Sheikh, “Egypt’s Everywoman Finds Her Place Is in the Presidential Palace,” New York Times, June 27, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/28/world/middleeast/naglaa-ali-mahmoud-an-egyptian-everywoman-in-the-presidential-palace.html?pagewanted=all.