Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s former president, was sentenced to death over his part in a mass prison break that took place during the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
CAIRO — An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced to death the deposed president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, along with more than 100 others, for fleeing prison during the 2011 revolt against former President Hosni Mubarak.
Morsi’s conviction is the latest sign of the undoing of the uprising that overthrew Mubarak. Morsi, who was Egypt’s first freely elected leader, now faces the death penalty for escaping extralegal detention — a form of detention that many Egyptians hoped would be eliminated by the revolution.
If carried out, the sentence could make Morsi a martyr to millions of Islamists in Egypt and around the world. In a statement about the sentencing, Amr Darrag, a Muslim Brotherhood leader and a Cabinet minister under Morsi, said it was “one of the darkest days of Egyptian history” and a symbol “of the dark shadow of authoritarianism that is now cast back over Egypt.”
Judge Shaaban el-Shami issued the ruling Saturday in a courtroom in a converted auditorium on the grounds of a police academy on the outskirts of Cairo. Morsi, wearing a blue prison uniform, stood inside a metal and glass cage built in the courtroom. Some of his co-defendants, including other senior Brotherhood leaders, also appeared inside the cage.
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Before they can be carried out, the death sentences must be approved by Egypt’s top Sunni Muslim religious authority, the grand mufti, who is scheduled to make a ruling by June 2. The convictions are also subject to appeal through the court system.
Mona El-Ghobashy, a visiting scholar at the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life at Columbia University, said Morsi’s trial was part of the Egyptian authorities’ offensive against the forces of the uprising that toppled Mubarak.
“The self-appointed permanent guardians of the state, judiciary and military are messaging that the revolution’s political results (free elections, civilian president, right to protest) were unnatural, unreal and unsustainable,” El-Ghobashy wrote in an email. “They’re saying to Egyptians: This whole business of democracy and choosing your rulers is a fantasy. That’s not the way power works here.”