Tuesday 16 July 2019

Morsi is buried in a small ceremony as jail conditions denounced as torture

A man holds a picture of Mohamed Morsi during a symbolic funeral in Istanbul. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
A man holds a picture of Mohamed Morsi during a symbolic funeral in Istanbul. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Leila Molana-Allen

Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's ousted president, was buried yesterday morning at a small family ceremony in Cairo after authorities refused permission for a burial in his home province of Sharqiya.

Mr Morsi, who was deposed in a 2013 military coup after becoming the nation's first democratically elected president, collapsed and died in court on Monday evening after suffering a heart attack.

He was facing several long-running prosecutions stemming from his year-long reign.

The 67-year-old was buried at 5am next to the graves of other leaders of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The ceremony took place with just five family members in attendance.

"The state wants to avoid this becoming a catalyst for any kind of mobilisation," said Tim Kaldas, of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. "That was the point of burying him so quickly, and in a place that's harder to turn into a pilgrimage site."

The Muslim Brotherhood responded to Mr Morsi's death with a call for protests at Egyptian embassies around the world. But the likelihood of street protests in Egypt itself is low given a 2013 law requires permits for any demonstration and the Muslim Brotherhood, as a banned organisation, cannot apply.

Human rights organisations have accused the Egyptian authorities of keeping Mr Morsi in inhumane conditions in prison and refusing him treatment for diabetes. The former president was held in solitary confinement for most of his six years in jail, which amounts to torture under international standards.

The government has promised an investigation into Mr Morsi's death, but experts say such internal reviews rarely yield results.

"It's a delaying tactic until the story ceases to be newsworthy and they hope people will lose interest," Mr Kaldas said. "The state has sought to erase [Mr Morsi] as they have sought to erase the entire revolution, and to some extent they might succeed."

Mr Morsi's death was not featured on the front pages of Egypt's tightly state-controlled newspapers. Security agents prevented reporters and photographers from attending the funeral and barred journalists from travelling to Mr Morsi's village.


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