Dr Mohamed Morsi, 67, who died on Monday 17 June 2019 while imprisoned, was the only democratically elected head of state in Egyp’s modern history. His death caused outrage in the international community with millions all over the world participating in his Salatul-Janaza-Alghaib (absentee funeral prayer) while the news of his death was barely mentioned in the Egyptian press.
In Sydney, the prayers attended by thousands at the Gallipoli mosque on Tuesday 18 June were led by the Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed while Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman, President of ANIC during his address said that the death of this honourable man was a great loss, to not only Egyptians and Muslims but all who stand for justice.
The UN has called for an independent investigation into the death of Dr Morsi. A statement from Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, pointed to Egypt’s obligations to treat its prisoners humanely in calling for an investigation.
His family have long raised concerns over his treatment in prison and say that the authorities refused a request for him to be buried in his home town. Instead, he was laid to rest in eastern Cairo early on Tuesday 18 June morning under tight security.
The death of Dr Morsi has cast the spotlight on the dire conditions faced by political prisoners in Egypt under the government of dictator, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
“Former President Morsi’s death followed years of government mistreatment, prolonged solitary confinement, inadequate medical care, and deprivation of family visits and access to lawyers,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch said.
But the former president was just one of tens of thousands of prisoners suffering under similar conditions.
Under al-Sisi’s rule, Egyptian security forces have engaged in a campaign of intimidation and arrests of political opponents and civil society activists, with at least 60,000 people – including leaders of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood such as Morsi – believed to have been imprisoned on political grounds.
In 2016, HRW documented the grim conditions in Cairo’s high-security Scorpion prison, where those considered enemies of the state, including many Muslim Brotherhood leaders, are being held.
But deaths due to medical neglect are nothing new. According to Human Rights Monitor, more than 300 detainees have died in prison in Egypt since the coup in 2013, with the cause of death principally due to “medical neglect and torture”.
Dr Mohamed Morsi’s presidency was hope for a democratic future in Egypt long dominated by ruthless dictators who had inflicted atrocities on all opposition especially on Ikhwan al Muslimoon, the Muslim Brotherhood.
His rise to the presidency reflected the aspirations of millions of Egyptians for a future free of despotic military rule. For Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the field marshal who overthrew Dr Morsi in a July 2013 coup and restored military rule in Egypt, Dr Morsi’s death signals yet another milestone in a six-year mission to bury any remaining vestiges of the country’s short-lived democratic transition.
Mohamed Morsi Eesa was born on 8 August 1951 in northern Egypt and in 1960s, he moved to Cairo to study at Cairo University, and earned a BA in engineering with high honors in 1975.
He fulfilled his military service in the Egyptian Army from 1975 to 1976, serving in the chemical warfare unit. He then resumed his studies at Cairo University and earned an MS in metallurgical engineering in 1978.
After completing his master’s degree, Morsi earned a government scholarship that enabled him to study in the United States. He received a PhD in materials science from the University of Southern California in 1982.
While living in the United States, he became an assistant professor at California State University, Northridge from 1982 to 1985. He was an expert on precision metal surfaces, also worked with NASA in the early 1980s, helping to develop Space Shuttle engines.
In 1985, Dr Morsi returned to Egypt, becoming a professor at Zagazig University, where he was appointed head of the engineering department and remained there until 2010.
Dr Morsi leaves behind his wife Naglaa Ali Mahmoud, five children, Ahmed Mohammed Morsi, who is a physician in Saudi Arabia; Shaima, a graduate of Zagazig University; Osama, an attorney; Omar who has a bachelor in commerce from Zagazig University; and Abdullah, a high-school student, and three grandchildren.