In 2012, Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi issued a declaration banning challenges to his decrees, laws and decisions. The declaration also said no court can dissolve the constituent assembly, which was drawing up a new constitution. This led to massive protests and violent action throughout Egypt which ultimately led to Morsi being overthrown and arrested. Here are 7 facts about the man who caused an uproar in Egypt.
#1 Morsi was professor at the Zagazig University
Born on August 20, 1951 in a village north of Cairo, Mohamed Morsi is the eldest of five brothers. He recalls being taken to school on the back of a donkey. He studied Engineering at Cairo University in the 1970s and then did Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Southern California in the U.S. In 1985 he returned to Egypt and became head of the engineering department at Zagazig University where he remained professor till 2010. During this time he also rose in the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood.
#2 He began his political career as an independent candidate
Morsi served as a Member of Parliament from 2000 to 2005 as an independent candidate because the Brotherhood was barred from running candidates under the then president Hosni Mubarak. Morsi then lost his seat in his home constituency, after a run-off vote that he claimed was rigged.
#3 Morsi believed in 9/11 conspiracy theories
Mohamed Morsi has made a few comments questioning the official account of the 9/11 attacks in U.S. In May 2010 he went to the extent of saying, “How did the plane cut through the steel like this? Something must have happened from the inside. It’s impossible.” An article in The Washington Post strongly criticized Morsi for these comments stating that he had “embraced some of the vilest conspiracy theories about 9/11”
#4 He was called the Accidental President
In the 2012 Egyptian presidential election, Morsi filed his nomination on the last possible day because it seemed that the deputy leader of the Brotherhood, Khairat al-Shater, could be disqualified. It did happen and hence the Brotherhood shifted its support to Morsi. This later earned Morsi titles like “The Accidental President” and “The Spare Wheel”.
#5 He is Egypt’s first democratically elected president
In June 2012 Morsi became Egypt’s fifth president by taking 51.7% of the votes in the run-off against Ahmed Shafiq. He is the first civilian to become president of Egypt and the first Islamist to hold the job. He is also Egypt’s first democratically elected president. After coming to power Morsi gave himself 100 days to solve some of Egypt’s most difficult problems including traffic, security, fuel and frequent power and water cuts. The period ended on October 8. The public opinion on his performance was divided.
#6 As President he granted himself unlimited power
For 18 months before Morsi was sworn in as president, Egypt was ruled by the country’s formidable military. To maintain their tight grip on power they announced a constitutional declaration just days before the election results. It gave Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) legislative and executive powers including the ability to veto any article in the drafting of the country’s constitution. However in August Morsi cancelled Scaf’s constitutional declaration and transferred full executive and legislative authority from the military council to himself. He also forced the Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi and his second-in-command Sami Enan into retirement. ‘The Accidental President’ started being criticized as ‘Egypt’s new pharaoh’.
#7 Morsi was sentenced to death in May 2015
On 30 June 2013, tens of thousands of people rallied across Egypt calling for Mohamed Mursi’s resignation from the post of president. On July 3, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, ousted Morsi and installed an interim government. Morsi was arrested and faced several criminal charges while Abdel Fattah el-Sisi went on to become President of Egypt . On 16 May 2015 Morsi was sentenced to death by an Egyptian court for his role in the Wadi el-Natrun prison break during the 2011 revolution.