Mohamed Morsi[note 1] (Arabic: محمد محمد مرسى عيسى العياط, ALA-LC: Muḥammad Muḥammad Mursī ‘Īsá al-‘Ayyāṭ, IPA: [mæˈħæmmæd mæˈħæmmæd ˈmoɾsi ˈʕiːsæ (ʔe)l.ʕɑjˈjɑːtˤ]; born 8 August 1951) is the fifth and current President of Egypt, having assumed office on 30 June 2012.
Mohamed Morsi was educated in Egyptian public schools and universities; he was later granted a scholarship from the Egyptian Government to prepare for a PhD degree in the United States, Morsi was a Member of Parliament in the People’s Assembly of Egypt from 2000 to 2005, and a leading member in the Muslim Brotherhood. He became Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) when it was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood in the wake of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. He stood as the FJP’s candidate for the May–June 2012 presidential election.
On 24 June 2012, the election commission announced that Morsi won Egypt’s presidential runoff against Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister under deposed leader Hosni Mubarak. According to official results, Morsi took 51.7 percent of the vote while Shafik received 48.3%. As he had promised during his campaign, Morsi resigned from his position as the head of the FJP after his victory was announced.
After Morsi granted himself unlimited powers to “protect” the nation in late November 2012, and the power to legislate without judicial oversight or review of his acts, hundreds of thousands of protesters began demonstrating against him in the 2012 Egyptian protests. On 8 December 2012, Morsi annulled his decree which had expanded his presidential authority and removed judicial review of his decrees, an Islamist official said, but added that the effects of that declaration would stand. George Isaac of the Constitution Party said that Morsi’s declaration did not offer anything new, the National Salvation Front rejected it as an attempt to save face, and the 6 April Movement and Gamal Fahmi of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate said the new declaration failed to address the “fundamental” problem of the nature of the assembly that was tasked with drafting the constitution.
Early life and education
Morsi was born in the Sharqia Governorate, in northern Egypt, of modest provincial origin, in the village of El-Adwah, north of Cairo, on 8 August 1951. His father was a farmer and his mother a housewife. He is the eldest of five brothers, and told journalists that he remembers being taken to school on the back of a donkey. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in engineering from Cairo University in 1975 and 1978, respectively. He then earned his Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Southern California in the U.S. in 1982 with his dissertation High-Temperature Electrical Conductivity and Defect Structure of Donor-Doped Al2O3.  He was an Assistant Professor at California State University, Northridge, from 1982 to 1985. In 1985, he returned to Egypt and began to serve as the head of the engineering department at Zagazig University, where he was a professor until 2010. National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan (NUST) conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy on the Egyptian President Dr. Mohamed Morsi at a special convocation held at School of Civil & Environmental Engineering NUST in Islamabad on 18 March 2013.
The degree was awarded to Egyptian President in recognition of his achievements and significant contribution towards promotion of peace and harmony in the world and strengthening bilateral relations with the Muslim countries specially Pakistan. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf as Chancellor of the University (NUST) conferred the degree on the Egyptian President along with the Rector Nust, Muhammad Asghar.
Morsi was first elected to parliament in 2000. He served as a Member of Parliament from 2000 to 2005 as an independent candidate because the Brotherhood was technically barred from running candidates for office under Mubarak. He was a member of the Guidance Office of the Muslim Brotherhood until the founding of the Freedom and Justice Party in 2011, at which point he was elected by the MB’s Guidance Office to be the first president of the new party. While serving in this capacity in 2010, Morsi stated that “The two-state solution is nothing but a delusion concocted by the brutal usurper of the Palestinian lands.”
Morsi made several disputed comments about the September 11 attacks that have drawn occasional criticism in the United States, including stating that it is “insulting” to suggest that damage from aircraft collision brought down the World Trade Center, that no evidence has been presented that could identify the Al-Qaeda terrorists who were recorded on video as they boarded the planes they would fly into the World Trade Center towers, and that in order to address questions surrounding the events a “huge scientific conference” should be held to determine the real culprits.
2011 Political prisoner
The break of Wadi el-Natroun Prison received widespread news coverage within hours from its occurrence. On 30 January 2011, EST, the news flowed from Cairo Egypt as follows.
- 6:12 am – Reuters  reported: Thirty-four members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, including seven members of the leadership, walked out of prison on Sunday after relatives of prisoners overcame the guards
- 12:29 am – The Guardian reported: Armed gangs took advantage of the chaos in Cairo and other cities to free the prisoners, starting fires and engaging prison guards in gun battles, officials said. Several inmates were reportedly killed during the fighting and some were recaptured.
- 12:35 am – Twitter: Also reports of new prison break at Wadi Natrun #Egypt 5000 escapees. Still confirming but had 2 similar reports. Prison guards fled #Jan 25
- 1:13 pm – Los Angeles Times: Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood members escape prison, rally in Tahrir Square
- 14:04 pm – Israel News: Former minister reportedly evacuated from Interior Ministry building under heavy fire. Thousands of criminals, political prisoners flee local jails, join uprising against President Mubarak across country. Report: Dozens of bodies found near Cairo prison
Morsi’s initial telephone call on behalf of freed prisoners
From Morsi’s first contact with the Aljazeera on the moment of his release and before his decision to depart the premise of the prison, the call reports:
هروب مساجين من سجن وادي النطرون من بينهم محمدمرسي
“unknown people broke into the prison after chaos erupted outside the prison in the middle of the night which required four hours of effort by the helpers to break into ward number 3 in prison number 2, where 34 Muslim Brothers were locked up.”
The 30 January 2011’s historic call: on 20 January 2011, Mohamed Morsi, the member of the Muslim Brothers, telephoned Aljazeera’s TV to announce to the state authorities that he and 34 of his prison inmates were released from the prison by about 100 unknown people and that the prison guards and officials are nowhere to be found. Morsi described the situation of the released prisoners, identified the exact location of the prison and asked the host of Aljazeera to help them find the state official who could help them with their next move. Morsi shouted: we will not flee, we are present here and need someone to tell us what to do? He described their location as: Prison at Alexandria-Cairo desert highway, kilo[metre] 97, close to the town of Sadat. He described his associates as: Mohammad Morsi, Esam ElAryan, Mohamed Saad AlKatatny, Mahmoud Abu Zead, Mustafi Al-Goneamy, Saad Al-Husseiny, Zayed Nuzeally, Dr. Ahmed Abdul Rahman, Maged Al-Zummer, Hassan abu Sheaashaa, Ali Izz, Morsi stressed again and described the exact location as: The walls of the prison face the desert highway, named Wadi Al Natroun Prison. We were in ward number 3, prison 2, prison 2, ward 3, prison Wadi Al Natroun, kilo 97, north west Cairo, approximately 100 kilos. The call went on to add more details: We do not know at all the people who broke in, some dressed in civil clothes, some in prison clothes, more than 100, did every thing to let us out, took more than 4 hours. We heard explosions of gas canisters fired by the guards outside, as the chaos ensued and the prison authority tried to restore order outside, we did not know what was happening, we did not see any injuries, we did not hear cries. After we exited at 12 O’clock, today, there was no one but us and the people who tried to let us out, are now in front of the gate of prison 2, negotiating what to do next.
2012 Egyptian presidential campaign
After Khairat El-Shater was disqualified from the 2012 presidential election, Morsi, who was initially nominated as a backup candidate, emerged as the new Muslim Brotherhood candidate. His campaign was supported by well-known Egyptian cleric Safwat Hegazi at a rally in El-Mahalla El-Kubra, the epicentre of the Egyptian worker protests.
Following the first round of Egypt’s first post-Mubarak presidential elections where exit polls suggested a 25.5% share of the vote for Morsi, he was officially announced as the president on 24 June 2012 following a subsequent run-off vote. Morsi supporters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square celebrated, and angry outbursts occurred within the Egypt Election Authorities press conference as the result was announced. He came in slightly ahead of former Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafik and has been noted for the Islamist character of his campaign events. Since the initial round of voting on 23 May and 24 May 2012, Morsi has attempted to appeal to political liberals and minorities while portraying his rival Ahmed Shafik as a holdover from the Mubarak-era of secular moderation.
On 30 May 2012, Morsi filed a lawsuit against Egyptian television presenter Tawfiq Okasha, accusing him of “intentional falsehoods and accusations that amount to defamation and slander” of Morsi. According to online newspaper Egypt Independent, an English-language subsidiary of Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, Okasha spent three hours on 27 May 2012 criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi on air. After Okasha aired a video allegedly depicting Tunisian Islamist extremists executing a Christian whilst asking “how will such people govern?”, some analysts suggested that this was in reference to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party. Tunisian government described such video as a fantasy in an angry statement.
President of Egypt
Morsi was sworn in on 30 June 2012, as Egypt’s first democratically elected president. He succeeded Hosni Mubarak, who left the office of the President of Egypt vacant after being forced to resign on 11 February 2011.
According to Foreign Policy, the effect of a Morsi presidency on domestic policy is hazy, as Egypt’s bureaucracy remains stocked with Mubarak loyalists and could block any changes that Morsi tries to push through. In a television interview with Yosri Fouda, he stated that his preference is an interim period with a mixed presidential-parliamentary system, which would pave the way for a system in which the legislature held complete sway. Morsi has convened Parliament on 10 July 2012; this may cause friction between him and the military officials who dissolved the legislature.
In a speech to supporters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on 30 June 2012, Morsi briefly mentioned that he would work to free Omar Abdel-Rahman, convicted in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City, along with the countless other Egyptians who were arrested during the revolution. A Brotherhood spokesperson later said that the extradition was for humanitarian reasons and that Morsi did not intend to overturn Abdel-Rahman’s criminal convictions.
On 10 July 2012, Morsi reinstated the Islamist-dominated parliament that was disbanded by the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt on 14 June 2012. According to Egypt’s official news agency, Morsi ordered the immediate return of legislators elected in 2011, a majority of whom are members of Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party and other Islamist groups. A Morsi spokesman announced that the president-elect would appoint a Christian and a woman as vice-presidents, but eventually appointed Mahmoud Mekki, a Muslim. On 22 December 2012, Mekki resigned.
After Kamal Ganzouri‘s resignation, Morsi tasked Hesham Qandil with forming the new government. On 2 August 2012, Qandil was sworn in as Prime Minister. Morsi also objected to a constitutional provision limiting presidential power.
On 12 August 2012, Morsi asked Mohamad Hussein Tantawi, head of the country’s armed forces, and Sami Hafez Anan, the Army chief of staff, to resign. He also announced that the constitutional amendments passed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) restricting the president’s powers would be annulled. Morsi’s spokesman, Yasser Ali, announced that both Tantawi and Anan would remain advisers to the president. Morsi named Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, currently serving as chief of military intelligence, as Egypt’s new defense minister. The New York Times described the move as an “upheaval” and a “stunning purge”, given the power that SCAF had taken after the fall of Mubarak. Al Jazeera described it as “escalating the power struggle” between the president and military. On 14 August 2012, Mohamed Salem, an Egyptian lawyer, filed a legal challenge over Morsi’s removal of Tantawi and Anan, arguing that Morsi planned to bring back the totalitarian regime.
Morsi fired two more high-rank security officials on 16 August 2012: intelligence chief Murad Muwafithe and the commander of his presidential guards.
On 27 August 2012, Morsi named 21 advisers and aides that included three women and two Christians and a large number of Islamist-leaning figures. He also appointed new governors to the 27 regions of the country.
On 19 October 2012, Morsi traveled to Egypt’s northwestern Matrouh in his first official visit to deliver a speech on Egyptian unity at el-Tenaim Mosque. Immediately prior to his speech he participated in prayers there where he openly mouthed “Amen” as cleric Futouh Abd Al-Nabi Mansour, the local head of religious endowment, declared, “Deal with the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, disperse them, rend them asunder. Oh Allah, demonstrate Your might and greatness upon them. Show us Your omnipotence, oh Lord.” The prayers were broadcast on Egyptian state television and translated by MEMRI. Originally MEMRI translated the broadcast as “Destroy the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, disperse them, rend them asunder,” but later revised their translation.
November 2012 declaration
On 22 November 2012, Morsi issued a declaration purporting to protect the work of the Constituent Assembly drafting the new constitution from judicial interference. In effect, this declaration immunises his actions from any legal challenge. The decree states that it only applies until a new constitution is ratified. The declaration also requires a retrial of those accused in the Mubarak-era killings of protesters, who had been acquitted, and extends the mandate of the Constituent Assembly by two months. Additionally, the declaration authorizes Morsi to take any measures necessary to protect the revolution. Liberal and secular groups walked out of the constitutional Constituent Assembly because they believed that it would impose strict Islamic practices, while members of the Muslim Brotherhood supported Morsi.
The move was criticized by Mohamed ElBaradei who said Morsi had “usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh.” The move led to massive protests and violent action throughout Egypt, with protesters erecting tents in Tahrir Square, the site of the protests preceding the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. The protesters demanded a reversal of the declaration and the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. Those gathered in the square called for a “huge protest” on 27 November. Clashes were reported between protesters and police. The declaration was also condemned by human rights groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Freedom House. Egypt’s highest body of judges decried the ruling as an “unprecedented assault on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings.” Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, a prosecutor appointed by Hosni Mubarak, declared the decree “null and void.” Morsi further emphasized his argument that the decree is temporary, and said he wanted dialog with the opposition. Morsi’s statement failed to appease either the judges or citizenry dissatisfied with his decision and sparked days of protests in Tahrir Square.
Though the declarations’s language had not been altered, Morsi agreed to limit the scope of the decree to “sovereign matters” following four days of opposition protests and the resignation of several senior advisers. Morsi’s spokesman said an agreement, reached with top judicial authorities, would leave most of the president’s actions subject to review by the courts, but preserve his power to protect the Constituent Assembly from being dissolved by the courts before it had finished its work. President Morsi also agreed there would be no further retrials of former officials under Hosni Mubarak, unless new evidence was presented.
On 4 December 2012, Morsi left his presidential palace after a number of protesters broke through police cordons around the palace, with some climbing atop an armored police vehicle and waving flags.
On 8 December 2012, Morsi annulled his decree which had expanded his presidential authority and removed judicial review of his decrees, an Islamist official said, but added that the effects of that declaration would stand. A constitutional referendum was still planned for 15 December. George Isaac of the Constitution Party said that Mursi’s declaration did not offer anything new, the National Salvation Front rejected it as an attempt save face, and the 6 April Movement and Gamal Fahmi of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate said the new declaration failed to address the “fundamental” problem of the nature of the Assembly that was tasked with drafting the constitution.