Mohamed Morsi

Mohamed Morsi Isa El-Ayyat is the fifth and current President of Egypt, having assumed office June 30, 2012.

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Mohamed Morsi Isa El-Ayyat (Arabic: محمد مرسى عيسى العياط‎, IPA: [mæˈħæmmæd ˈmoɾsi ˈʕiːsæ (ʔe)l.ʕɑjˈjɑːtˤ], born August 20, 1951) is the fifth and current President of Egypt, having assumed office June 30, 2012.[6]

Morsi was a Member of Parliament in the People's Assembly of Egypt from 2000 to 2005 and a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood. He became Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), a political party, 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 June 24, 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.[7] As he had promised during his campaign, Morsi resigned from his position as the head of the FJP after his victory was announced.[8] He is the first civilian to hold the office, and the first chosen in a contested election with direct universal suffrage.

Early life and education

Morsi was born in the Sharqia Governorate, in northern Egypt of modest provincial origin, in the village of Edwa, north of Cairo. He is the eldest of five brothers. He recalled being taken to school on the back of a donkey.[9] He received a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in engineering from Cairo University in 1975 and 1978, respectively. He then received his Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Southern California in the U.S. in 1982. His doctoral thesis was titled "High-Temperature Electrical Conductivity and Defect Structure of Donor-Doped Al2O3."[10][11] He was an Assistant Professor at California State University, Northridge, from 1982 to 1985. In 1985, he returned to Egypt to become the head of the engineering department at Zagazig University, where he was a professor until 2010.[11][12][13]

Political career

Morsi was first elected to parliament in 2000.[14] 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.[15] 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.[citation needed]

2012 Egyptian presidential campaign

Morsi during his 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.[16] His campaign was supported by well-known Egyptian cleric Safwat Hegazi at a rally in El-Mahalla El-Kubra,[17] the epicentre of the Egyptian worker protests.[18]

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.[19] 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 Mubarak-era holdover.[20]

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.[21] After Okasha aired a video allegedly depicting 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.[22]

On 24 June 2012, Morsi was announced as the winner of the election with 51.73% of the vote.[23] Almost immediately afterward, he resigned from the presidency of the Freedom and Justice Party.[24]


Morsi was sworn in on June 30, 2012, as Egypt's first democratically elected president.[25] He succeeded Hosni Mubarak, who left the office of the President of Egypt vacant after being forced to resign on February 11, 2011.[1][2]

Domestic policy

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.[26] Morsi has convened Parliament on 10 July 2012; this may cause friction between him and the military officials who dissolved the legislature.[27]

Morsi seeks to influence the drafting of a new constitution of Egypt. Morsi favors a constitution that protects civil rights, yet is enshrined in Islamic law.[28]

In a speech to supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square on June 30, 2012, Mohamed 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.[29] A Brotherhood spokesperson later said that the extradition was for humanitarian reasons and that Morsi didn't intend to overturn Abdel-Rahman's criminal convictions.[30]

In early July 2012, Morsi moved to reinstate the Islamist-dominated parliament that was disbanded one month earlier. 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.[31] A Morsi spokesman announced that the president-elect would appoint a Christian and a woman as vice-presidents.[32]

After Kamal Ganzouri's resignation, Morsi tasked Hesham Qandil with forming the new government.[33] On August 2, 2012, Qandil was sworn in as Prime Minister.[34] Morsi also objected to a constitutional provision limiting presidential power.[35]

On August 12, 2012, Morsi asked Mohamad Hussein Tantawi, head of the country's armed forces, and Sami Anan, the Army chief of staff, to resign.[36] 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.[37] 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.[38] 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.[38] Al Jazeera described it as "escalating the power struggle" between the president and military.[37] On August 14, 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.[39]

Mohamed Morsi fired two more high-rank security officials on August 16, 2012: intelligence chief Murad Muwafithe and the commander of his presidential guards.[40]

On August 27, 2012, Morsi named 21 advisers and aides that included three women and two Christians and a large number of Islamist-leaning figures.[41]

In November 2012 after the election of the new Coptic Orthodox pope President Morsi will not attend the enthronement of the new pope. Instead, Morsi will "send a representative" to Cairo's St Mark's Cathedral for the enthronement of Bishop Tawadros as the new pope.[42]

Foreign policy

In October 2012 Morsi penned a friendly letter to Israeli President Shimon Peres. The letter largely followed standard diplomatic language. Morsi called Peres "a great and good friend" and went on to call for "maintaining and strengthening the cordial relations which so happily exist between our two countries." Morsi closed the letter by expressing "highest esteem and consideration." Muslim Brotherhood leader Gamal Muhammad Heshmat asserted that the letter was "fabricated" saying that "Zionist media have leaked baseless statements by Morsi in the past." However, Morsi spokesman Yasser Ali told Egyptian state-run newspaper Ahram that the letter was "100 percent correct."[43] Previously in July 2012 Morsi has had to deny a fabricated letter. [44]

Morsi said in his victory speech that he would honor all of Egypt's international treaties, which was thought to be a reference to Egypt's treaty with Israel.[45]

His first official foreign visit was to Saudi Arabia on July 11, 2012. During this visit, Morsi stated that he intends to strengthen ties with the oil-rich monarchy, which also maintained close ties with the Mubarak government.[46]

Morsi attended the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa from July 15 to 16, 2012; this was the first visit to Ethiopia by Egypt's president in 17 years because of the attempted assassination of Hosni Mubarak in June 1995.[47]

Morsi seems to have the support of the countries in the Persian Gulf.[48] Qatar, for instance, declared that it would provide Egypt with US$2 billion just as Morsi announced the reshuffle in the cabinet on August 12, 2012.[48]

Morsi attended a summit in Iran at the end of August 2012, in a visit that could resume normal relations for the countries. Their diplomatic relationship has been strained since Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.[49]

On November 14, 2012 when Israel launched airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, Morsi's government condemned the operation and called for a halt to airstrikes.[50]

Non-Aligned Movement Summit 2012

Morsi made a speech at the 16th Non-Aligned Movement summit held in Tehran in late August. He spoke against the Syrian government and called on the Syrian opposition to unite during the Syrian civil war. His comments about Syria, however, were not covered by Iranian media clearly.[51]

He also sparked some controversy saying that it is an "ethical duty" to support the Syrian people against the "oppressive regime" in Damascus.[52]

Comments on September 11 attacks

Morsi has made a number of public comments questioning the official account of the events of the September 11 attacks in the United States.[53] In 2007, Morsi stated that the United States "has never presented any evidences on the identity of those who committed that incident".[53] In 2008, Morsi called for a "huge scientific conference" to be held on the events.[53] In a May 2010 interview with Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution, Morsi stated "When you come and tell me that the plane hit the tower like a knife in butter, then you are insulting us...How did the plane cut through the steel like this? Something must have happened from the inside. It’s impossible."[53]

An opinion piece by Robert Satloff and Eric Trager published in The Washington Post on September 11, 2012 strongly criticised Morsi for his comments on the attacks, stating that Morsi had "embraced some of the most vile conspiracy theories about 9/11" and describing his views on the attacks as "odious".[53]

Personal life

Morsi is married to Naglaa Ali Mahmoud. She reportedly stated that she does not want to be referred to as "First Lady" but rather "First Servant [of the Egyptian public]".[54]

President Morsi has five children: Ahmed Mohammed Morsi, who is a physician in Saudi Arabia; Shaima, a graduate of Zagazig University; Osama, an attorney; Omar; and Abdullah who are still high-school students.[55] Two of Morsi's five children were born in California and are U.S. citizens by birth.[56] President Morsi also has three grandchildren.[55]


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