Former President of EgyptNext
- In-Country Power
- International Power
- Military Strength
- Special Skill:
- Official Title: Mohamed Morsi Isa El-Ayyat
- Years Left in Office: To 2016; re-election possible
- Political Classification:
- Education: BS, MS in Engineering. PhD in Materials Science
- Age: 71 (born August 20, 1951)
Mohamed Morsi Facts and Information
A Muslim Brotherhood member as the first really and truly democratically-elected President of Egypt? Puh-leeze!
That would’ve been the reaction, say, in the 1980s when people still said “puh-leeze”. Not now. Oh hell no. But while the 80‘s jargon is out, there now really is a Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt. Now, this sort of thing tends to freak people out, but why, really? What’s the big deal? A moderate religious conservative as the head of a largely Muslim state? Preposterous! Right? I mean, there aren’t any other religiously conservative leaders in the Middle East that the US thinks are safe, sane, and allies of ours, are there?
Ummm…..yeah, about that. The USA counts the religiously conservative leaders of Saudi Arabia (Abdullah), Jordan (a different Abdullah), and even Turkey (Erdogan) as staunch allies….so don’t quite yet believe all the hype about Egypt turning into a terrorist state simply because a religiously conservative dude named Morsi is in charge. And I wouldn’t fret too much yet about his religiously conservative political party named Muslim Brotherhood either. What? The Muslim Brotherhood !!!! OMG! Aren’t they Islamic extremist terrorists trying to re-create a world Islamic caliphate?!? Ummm….no, not quite. If you want to learn what they really are all about, here is the full scoop on the Muslim Brotherhood.
But back to task: Things have a way of sorting themselves out, and, religious or not, the leaders of Egypt have a huge job ahead of them to get their political and economic house in order. If they can’t achieve that in the coming years, their level of piety won’t mean squat to the 80 million Egyptians who are hoping for better times for themselves and their state….in other words, this Arab Spring is far from over, and Egypt is far from stable, and the leaders of the state are far from having secure jobs.
So let’s talk about the number 1 dude in charge of this critical phase of Egyptian development. We’re here to discuss Morsi. Just who is this guy and how did he soar on feathery wings to ascend to the presidency of a country in which until only very recently he was not allowed to participate in politically?
Morsi was born in 1951 and had a typical early life consisting of youth, puberty, and teenager/hood. Then we went to college and got a BS in engineering at Cairo University and then went to USC in America where he completed his PhD in the same field. He then taught in America and had kids who are dual-citizenship Americans. Oh yeah and he helped developed the freakin’ engines for the Space Shuttle program. What?! Isn’t that just a ploy to get a foot in the door for the establishment of the American branch of the caliphate? From orbit??
In the mid-80s he returned to Egypt to teach at the awesomely named Zagazig University, (not Zigazag University, that would be ridiculous.) He remained in various positions there until 2010, when the proverbial revolutionary shit started to hit the fan. Like a lot of middle-of-the-road educated Egyptians, he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) since his twenties, but only became involved politically in the early 2000s. A notoriously dull speaker, Morsi ran for parliament in 2000 as an indie candidate since the MB was forbidden from acting like an outright political party and served in that capacity until 2005 when he was knocked out off of office during a corrupt election that was geared to push out MB members. During this early part of his political career, Morsi distinguished himself from time to time by speaking out against the Hosni Mubarak regime (the former dictator of Egypt for 30 years) and even managed to get himself arrested a few times in the run-up to 2011, resulting in lengthy stints in prison, in addition to his son being incarcerated as well.
By the time the Arab Spring rolled around, this mild-mannered fellow was a founding member of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) having risen through the MB ranks after his political activities and became its chairman. He was originally the backup candidate for the FJP in the first Egyptian presidential elections in the post-Moobie (Mubarak) era and went on to get elected with of 52% of the votes.
So how religious is he? How conservative is he? How much of a divergence from the Egyptian political past is he? Hard to judge at this point. Statements by MB members often get misconstrued as somehow being the views and opinions of Morsi himself, but, with anything like that, you have to take them with a large grain of salt. Political and religious groups tend to act more practically than their rhetoric once they’re in power. Morsi himself, as he had promised, withdrew his membership. Though his term as president has only really just begin, we can make some observations:
In Egypt, his election was seen as suspicious by many, not least the Coptic Christian minority and secular Egyptians who feared the rise of an Islamist government. In the West pundits were screaming shrilly about the beginning of the global caliphate that radical Islam was going to build. What has really happened? Yes, yes, yes Morsi was a member of the MB, so there must be at least some moderate religious influence there, not necessarily a bad thing, though strictly secular, religious-free polities like the US and Israel, his biggest detractors, see it as such. In his campaign he reassured the populace that there would only be a moderate religious influence in his policy-making, but it’s hard to even pinpoint that with any accuracy at this point. He has gone on record as supporting freedom of religion, women’s rights, and so on, even appointing some Copts and women to positions in his government.
Politically, he has angered many of the other elements from the anti-Moobie movement with his diktat that his government did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Egyptian judicial system, sparking protests across the country. He also declared the legislative bodies in Egypt, dominated by various religious parties, to be immune from dissolution and criticism. Both these events are taking place within the context of the writing of a new constitution. Naturally he upset a lot of people, including some of his own supporters. The constitution itself, while a modern one focused on the preservation of civil and human rights, would be based on fundamental precepts of Islamic culture. He also moved against the military elements of the post-Moobie government in an attempt to dilute their influence and power.
To the Israelis he was seen as a threat and his government even threatened to renege on the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty….and that treaty is basically the foundation stone for any sort of long-term peace in the Middle East concerning the state of Israel. But what really happened? He didn’t abrogate the treaty, making clear publicly that he wouldn’t, though he did criticize (along with much of the rest of planet Earth) Israel’s military operations against the Gaza Strip in November 2012. Morsi then served as the broker for the ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel as well, seen as a diplomatic coup by many outsiders, since he truly is a political newbie to the entire international p[olitical scene. But he did it! Past comments construed as anti-Semitic also came to light but Morsi denied the interpretation given them on the Israeli side, saying that as a Muslim he respected all the Abrahamic traditions. So there’s that.
Shrill alarmism aside, Morsi seems to have pissed off his domestic constituencies while doing much to assuage and adopt a practical stance internationally. He has involved Egypt on a regional level in issues such as the Syrian civil war (he has denounced the Assad regime) and the issue of Iran without stepping on too many toes. As for his domestic policies, only time will tell, though he has certainly had his fair share of shitty decision-making. In that respect, he honors the time-testing tradition of politicians the world over by pretty much making a bad situation worse.
Will Morsi survive and will Egypt thrive? Who knows? But if it doesn’t, revolution is still ripe in this part of the planet, and Mr. Morsi and the whole Muslim Brotherhood gang may find themselves out of favor, and out of political power, faster than you can say “Suez Canal Crisis.” But with the largest Arab and Muslim population of any state in the Middle East, once Egypt gets their stuff together they will become a dominant player in the region, in the Arab League, and in the Muslim world in general! That’s why it is important to watch this state, and know which way the leaders are taking it…..and I for one wish all the best of luck to the future Pharaohs of the Nile!
Plaidcasts Involving this Leader
- Mohamed Morsi on Charlie Rose Sep 24, 2012
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