Morsi, Mohamed

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Morsi, Mohamed

Mohamed Morsi (môr´sē), 1951–, Egyptian engineer and political leader, grad. Cairo Univ. (B.A. 1975. M.A. 1978), Univ. of Southern California (Ph.D. 1982). He taught engineering at California State Univ., Northridge, and after returning to Egypt in 1985, at Zagazig Univ. (1985–2010). Morsi became a member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and in 2000 he was elected to the Egyptian parliament, serving until 2005. In 2006 he was involved in antigovernment protests and was arrested and imprisoned for seven months; he also was arrested during the Arab Spring protests of Jan., 2011. When the Brotherhood established (2011) the Freedom and Justice party (FJP) as its political arm after Mubarak's ouster, Morsi became its head. When the FJP's preferred 2012 presidential candidate, Khairat El-Shater, was barred, Morsi ran, defeating Ahmed Shafiq after a runoff. Morsi, the first Islamist to be elected head of an Arab state and the first democratically elected president of Egypt, subsequently resigned from the Brotherhood. He lost some popular support in late 2012 when he gave himself almost unchecked power by decree (largely rescinded later) and hurried the adoption of a new constitution with mostly Islamist support. In 2013 he was increasingly in conflict with the judiciary. Amid massive demonstrations against Morsi's government, motivated in large part by economic, security, and sectarian concerns, the army ousted Morsi (July, 2013) from office and established an interim government, which led to Islamist unrest. Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood members were subsequently tried in several cases on charges relating to his escape from prison in 2011, charges stemming from the killing of demonstrators in 2012, charges of conspiring with foreign groups, and other charges, and he was sentenced variously to death (later overturned) or prison terms, often lengthy (one of which was overturned).

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