Egypt's Mursi faces trial after short taste of power

Reuters

By Michael Georgy

CAIRO, Nov 4 (Reuters) - When Muslim Brotherhood leaderMohamed Mursi broke out of an Egyptian jail during HosniMubarak's final days in office in 2011, he little thought hewould end up behind bars again.

Less than three years later, the deposed president's trialfor inciting violence, which starts on Monday, could land him inprison for the rest of his life, or worse.

After decades of repression under Egyptian autocrats, theMuslim Brotherhood won every election since a popular uprisingtoppled Mubarak in 2011, eventually propelling Mursi to power.

The U.S.-trained engineer's victory in the country's firstfree presidential election broke a tradition of domination bymen from the armed forces, which had provided every Egyptianleader since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952.

The euphoria that greeted the end of an era of presidentswho ruled like pharaohs did not last long.

Mursi promised a moderate Islamist agenda to steer Egyptinto a new democratic era where autocracy would be replaced bytransparent government that respected human rights and revivedthe fortunes of a powerful Arab state long in decline.

The stocky, bespectacled Mursi told Egyptians he woulddeliver an "Egyptian renaissance with an Islamic foundation".

Instead, he alienated millions who accused him of usurpingpowers, imposing the Brotherhood's conservative brand of Islamand mismanaging the economy, all of which he denied.

The son of a peasant farmer was something of an accidentalpresident, thrown into the race at the last moment by thedisqualification on a technicality of millionaire businessmanKhairat al-Shater, by far the group's preferred choice.

Mursi is a civil engineer and lecturer with a doctorate fromthe University of Southern California. He has spoken of a simplechildhood in a village in the Nile Delta province of Sharqia,recalling how his mother taught him prayer and the Koran.

In power, Mursi made the cardinal mistake in Egyptianpolitics; he alienated the military. The army chief that Mursiappointed because he was known as a religious man, General AbdelFattah al-Sisi, eventually turned on him.

ISOLATED BROTHERHOOD

Detecting mass discontent in the streets, Sisi pushed Mursito reach compromises with his political opponents. He refused,and reached out mainly to the Brotherhood and other Islamists.

A youth movement called Tamarud - "rebellion" in Arabic -began a petition calling for Mursi to step down. Eventuallymillions took to the streets demanding that he go.

Sisi, who was Mubarak's military intelligence chief, appeared on television on July 3 to announce the end of Mursi'stroubled one-year presidency and plans for elections.

Mursi had cited fear of judgement day as one reason forseeking the top office. He said: "We are worried that God willask us, on the Day of Reckoning: 'What did you do when you sawthat the nation was in need of sacrifice and effort?"

A severe security crackdown has since left Mursi'sBrotherhood in disarray. Riot police backed by army sniperscrushed Cairo protest camps calling for his reinstatement,killing hundreds.

Top Brotherhood leaders have been rounded up, including thegroup's supreme guide. Some fear the army-backed government willbring back the iron-fisted rule of the Mubarak years, but mostEgyptians back Sisi.

Mursi, who has been held in an undisclosed location sincehis arrest four months ago, now faces a day of reckoning incourt at the same police academy where Mubarak is on trial.

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