Morsi just Brotherhood puppet

2015-04-21 17:11
Mohammed Morsi speaking from the defendant's cage as he stands with co-defendants in a makeshift courtroom during a trial hearing in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Egyptian Interior Ministry)

Mohammed Morsi speaking from the defendant's cage as he stands with co-defendants in a makeshift courtroom during a trial hearing in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Egyptian Interior Ministry)

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Cairo - Ousted Egyptian leader Mohammed Morsi, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail on Tuesday, was a figurehead for his Muslim Brotherhood who was not the Islamist movement's first choice to run for president.

Nicknamed "The Spare Tyre" after he emerged as a compromise candidate to be Egypt's first freely elected president, Morsi nonetheless had a long history of activism with the Brotherhood.

Elected in June 2012 after the overthrow of long serving ruler Hosni Mubarak, Morsi was president for a year that was marked by deep divisions in Egyptian society, unrest and a crippling economic crisis.

Since being ousted by then-army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in July 2013, the 64-year-old has been languishing in detention as he faces a series of trials.

In the first verdict against him, Tuesday's ruling by a Cairo court convicted Morsi of abuses against protesters during clashes in December 2012, but acquitted him of charges of incitement to murder for which he could have faced the death penalty.

Morsi, the son of a farmer, was not the Brotherhood's initial choice for president.

Hailing from the Brotherhood's political wing - the Freedom and Justice Party - he was put forward after one of the movement's powerful financiers, Khairat al-Shater, was disqualified on technical grounds.

He won the presidential election in 2012 by a small margin, with many choosing him in a protest vote against Mubarak's prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.

But Morsi quickly grew to be disliked by millions, accused of failing to represent all Egyptians and trampling the ideals of the anti-Mubarak uprising.

The veteran Islamist with a cropped beard and spectacles was hardly charismatic and was seen by many as lacking the will to truly lead.

A puppet

"He was a puppet of the Muslim Brotherhood. He appointed Brotherhood members in key administrative posts and that really irritated the bureaucracy and the people," said Cairo University political professor Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid.

Since being ousted amid mass protests, Morsi has steadfastly rejected the authority of Egypt's courts to try him.

Often seen in a soundproof glass cage in the dock and dressed in a white prison uniform, Morsi has accused military chiefs of violating the constitution and carrying out a coup.

Morsi was born in the village of El-Adwah in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya in 1951, and had been the spokesperson of the Brotherhood from 2010.

He graduated with an engineering degree from Cairo University in 1975 and received a doctorate from the University of Southern California, where he was also an assistant professor in the early 1980s.

Married with five children and three grandchildren, Morsi first entered the political arena in 2000 when he was elected to parliament as an independent, given the Mubarak-era ban of the Brotherhood.

Read more on:    muslim brotherhood  |  mohammed morsi  |  egypt  |  north africa

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