top of page

The Tragedy of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's First and Last Democratically Elected Leader

I was 13 years old when I witnessed a revolutionary moment in Egypt's history. On June 24th, 2012, Mohamed Morsi an obscure engineer from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, had won a narrow victory over Mubarak era Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik in Egypt's first democratic election.
When the news broke out, Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the Egyptian Revolution, exploded with so much joy that it felt like the whole country shook a little. Cars honked, fire works went off and complete strangers hugged each other.
I remember my Mubarak Era grandmother saying: "The Election of Morsi is a sign of the day of judgement, he is the son of farmers and of low social status, How could such a man become the president of Egypt"?
When my grandmother said this, I felt overjoyed that an average citizen like Morsi could spit in the face of Egypt's class inequalities.
The paradox of a young secular Egyptian like me who dreaded going to the mosque with family members feeling excited about a Muslim Brotherhood candidate illustrates how much the rampant corruption and cruelty of Egyptian society can bring people together. Yes, I would have much preferred a liberal take office, but that was all besides the point.

For the first in the country's long history, Egyptians had participated in a mass democratic election that sparked much needed political discourses about the role of women, religion and the military in modern Egyptian society. This level of political engagement was simply unprecedented in the country's long history.

Egyptian TV, which was always limited in its freedom, began curating exhilarating and fierce political discourses that encouraged citizens to freely debate their vision for a new modern state.

Debate was not civil per se, but Egyptians were slowly beginning to participate in the building of a new modern Democratic state. For a brief period, Egypt was enjoying the fruits of democracy, such as free speech, freedom to mobilize and intense political engagement through democratic elections.

The election of the country's first democratically elected president was the country's Ne plus ultra in terms of democratic freedoms. Unfortunately, it only took a year for Egypt's crowning democratic achievements to hit Terra Firma.

Clearly, Morsi, was at odds with a deep state and a vast Military apparatus that conspired to guarantee his failure vis-à-vis orchestrated fuel and electricity shortages during his short one year reign.

The Military and State Intelligence apparatus were purposely dividing the country so as to end Egypt's crowning Democratic achievements.
Tragically, it was the the authentic revolutions, such as the disadvantaged youth and liberal Egyptians who poured into Tahrir Square in 2011 that ultimately paid the price for Egypt's failed democratic experiment.
It was the old conservative Muslim Brotherhood and the corrupt military thugs that robbed the youth of the country of their dreams. The youth always pay for the sins of adults.

Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood played their role in enabling Democratic and Revolution decay. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood ideologically resemble Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party, in the sense that democracy only applies when they win.

For the year that Morsi was in power, sectarian division between the country's Sunni majority and Shia and Coptic Christian minorities grew noticeably. Governance was clumsy at best and the hybrid between political islam and democracy seemed to only benefit men with greasy beards and not the legitimate Revolutionaries.

It was Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhoods monumental failings that made Egyptians feel destitute, thus, paving the way for the military to take back power once and for all.

Despite Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood's Authoritarian style of governance and unhealthy alliances with radical Islamist groups, Morsi's tenure was much more democratic than that of the current coup leader and illegitimate President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

Sisi cracks down on atheist and LGBTQ Egyptians exponentially more than Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood ever did. Moreover, The media was much freer during Morsi's reign than Sisi's. For instance, famous political satirist Bassem Youssef's show Al Bernamag was allowed to air during Morsi's reign but not Sisi's.

The predicament of post revolutionary Egypt and the other Arab Spring nations overlap seamlessly (with the exception of Tunisia, which is the only visible democracy in the region due to the immense cooperation between Islamist, moderate and secular political parties).

The Arab Spring quickly turns into the Arab Winter when the military gets involved in the democratic transition period (This happens in the case of Sudan, which deal with brutal military oppression after the overthrow of Omar Al Bashir).

Secular parties do not mobilize well among the general populous In Arab countries. As a result, the Islamist factions win, they clash with the military, elites and seculars, and are overthrown by the military, thus installing either a military dictatorship or an old regime hack (This happened in Algeria in 1991 and is the reason why Algerians did not join the Arab Spring).

The following question looms like a dark cloud over the Middle East: Do we let Islamist parties participate and win democratic elections, or are stable political dictatorships a more desirable end in the region?
Democracy can be grotesque, but it is always a desirable end if the general citizenry are constantly participating and patient. Terms and conditions do not apply to democracy.

The events following the 2011 Arab Spring make me terribly pessimistic about the possibility about healthy democracy throughout the Middle East. Under El-Sisi, Egypt is now a dead country.

No one dares open their mouths on political matters. There is no debate, no political activity, just forced disappearances and mass trials that turn even family members against each other. Egypt's quite death makes me mourn for the chaotic days of Morsi.

Back then, Egyptians could freely mobilize against Morsi and laugh at him vis-à-vis the Egyptian John Stewart, Bassem Youssef, who, under Sisi, is now in exile in the United States. Nothing makes Egyptians laugh anymore, living conditions are much worse than they were under Hosni Mubarak and Morsi, and they are constantly humiliated by their incompetent Pharaoh, El-Sisi.

It only took a year for Egypt's first Democratically elected President to be thrown in a cage and spend 23 hours of his day in solitary confinement without being fed.
By contrast, Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak was freed from prison despite killing 1000 protests during the January 25 revolution, most likely due to his military background and elite financial status.
It just goes to show, only the military men and the elites get to live in Egypt, no matter what the horrors they commit are. Meanwhile, anyone without money or a military badge is degraded, humiliated and exploited.
Mohamed Morsi died in a glass cage on June 17, 2019. They put him in a glass cage so he could not defend himself to the judge. The authorities left him dead in his cage for about thirty minutes.
He was denied a proper burial in his hometown of Zagazig. Mohamed Morsi's death has united all Egyptians who oppose the tyrant Sisi to condemn such an act of inhumanity.
In the West, people always talk about animal rights, which is very important and makes me wonder, when will Egypt begin to talk about human rights the way people in the West talk about animal rights?.
I can't help but to respect Mohamed Morsi despite our enormous political disagreements. At the end of the day, him and his Islamist counterparts died for the Egypt they believed in. Can Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and his thugs say the same?


bottom of page