By Yaseen Etherridge
I am not a man of politics nor am I a supporter of any political party whatsoever.
But reading different articles in the media, I appreciated the Muhammad Morsi as a great leader of Egypt, while at the same time realise why he could not hold the seat as President for long. His passing this week therefore comes as a no shock given the torture he has endured throughout his six years in jail.
At times of great tribulation and turmoil, the first casualty is always the truth and justice. The greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressors, tyrants and the enemies of Islam and Muslims is their ability to manipulate the facts using the media to suit their political agenda. Without the truth, we cannot see what is right and what is wrong. Without the truth, there is only betrayal, falsehood, injustice and oppression.
And that is how Egyptians find themselves in a land with a great history, where the democratically elected President, was betrayed and kidnapped by his own people and left to die.
Morsi was thrown in prison and held incommunicado for six years in almost inhumane conditions.
Besides, his supporters could be imprisoned, crushed, tortured, killed and banned. Depending on which side of the divide you fall, the late President Morsi was either a principled hero of epic proportions or a bungling nefarious criminal mastermind. So who is the real President Morsi?
Here are ten little known facts I have learnt that may help provide us with some clues:
He was a Hafiz of the Quran
One of the little known facts about Morsi was that he memorised the entire Quran by heart unlike many Muslim politicians in the world. This is no mean feat and something that itself is worthy of praise. The Prophet may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him said: “The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Quran and teach it.” Abu Musa Al Asharee may Allāh be pleased with him reported that the Prophet peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him said, “Part of showing glory to Allah is to show respect to a white-haired Muslim, and a carrier of the Quran who does not exaggerate in it nor ignore it and a just ruler.” An interesting combination of virtues there don’t you think?
He was well educated and intelligent
It is widely assumed that Morsi wasn’t bright but a mere populist. He was repeatedly portrayed as bumbling and dim-witted by his enemies and the enemies of Islam. His detractors point to a series of decisions that seemed to exacerbate anger against him – such as the taxation U-turns, the choice of governor for Luxor and his battle royale against the judiciary.
And yet the majority evidence points to Morsi being much more academically gifted than any of Egypt’s previous military dictators, the current coup general and his enemies. He has a PHD, is a professor and was the Head of the Department of Engineering in Zagazig University. He previously worked on various projects in America and was a visiting professor there.
He lived a simple life in an apartment
Morsi was not only Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, he was a humble and down to earth person. When he ascended to the presidency, has had the luxury of occupying the many presidential palaces dotted around Cairo. They are sprawling in size and lavishly furnished.
When Morsi walked into the Presidential palace for the first time, he had made up his mind that he would not live in any of them. He relented to carry out official government business in these vast palaces, but he would continue to live in an apartment rented out for some time. This was how his people were treated to the unbelievable sight of the President of a nation having death threats to his family being graffited onto the walls of the elevator he used to get to his flat.
Compare this to the other Muslim “leaders” who and this is not an exaggeration, whose toilets are bigger than many people’s home and surrounded by body guards to protect them from the people that put them in power.
He refused special treatment for his dying sister
Whilst Morsi was president, his sister fell seriously ill. When he went to visit her in hospital, the doctors told him that she may get better treatment if she was transferred to Europe or America. All they needed was the order from him and a medivac chopper and airplane would be commandeered.
He refused, stating that his family should not be favoured above ordinary Egyptians merely because of the position he held. His sister passed away in a government hospital like any other Egyptian citizen.
The Azaan takes precedence over his speech
When Morsi was delivering an important speech, he was suddenly made aware that prayer time fell. Instead of ignoring the Azaan and continuing his speech or even just staying silent for a minute – Morsi loudly and proudly repeated the Azaan. The effect was electrifying and a generation of pious young Muslims saw that even their leaders submitted to the words of Allah.
The homeless widow
A homeless woman who used to sleep on the streets of Cairo. One day a car pulled up and Morsi himself got out of the back. He asked her why she slept on the streets. She told him that since she had become a widow, she was unable to continue paying for their apartment and eventually found herself on the street. Morsi said that no mother in Egypt should suffer like this and directed officials to provide her with a respectable apartment and enough of a stipend from the state to pay for it.
Since al-Sisi’s coup she has become homeless again.
He took part in aid work
President Morsi’s visit to Banda Aceh, Indonesia
Following the devastating South Asian Tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims, he was there as part of an aid mission to help the survivors rebuild their shattered lives. Morsi wasn’t just another scheming member of the deep state of Egypt who did nothing but worked for their own advancement and that of their families since day one.
When Bashaar Al-Assad the Syrian dictator, sent him a congratulatory message on his election to the Presidency, Morsi replied “I do not recognize you as the rightful representative of the Syrian people.” Despite all protocols, he could not bring himself to be polite to the ‘murderer’ of so many innocent people.
The Worlds lowest paid leader
We get so used to seeing the sickening figures that business moguls, sports stars and so-called celebrities pull in that we expect our political leaders to be earning mega bucks as well. We’re not shocked when we see former Prime Ministers or Presidents become millionaires on the lucrative speakers circuit. Morsi could have taken the opportunity of being President to build a nest-egg for himself and his family. After all, he still lived in a rented flat. Maybe he could buy himself a house? It turns out that President Morsi was the lowest paid world leader. He stipulated that his salary would be $10,000 for the entire year. At the time of his arrest, it transpired that he had actually not drawn any salary at all. He had been working for free.
He rarely missed Fajr in the Mosque
President Morsi was so keen not to miss any prayers in congregation and in the mosque that it became a running joke amongst the coup supporters who felt such outward displays of piety were pretentious. Yet, ignoring their cynicism, Morsi did not miss his prayers and he was often seen moved to tears by the Khutba on Friday prayers.
No pictures please
Egypt, like most Arab dictatorships, had the picture of their “benevolent” leader plastered across the walls of every building. You couldn’t go anywhere in Egypt without seeing Mubarak and now SISI staring down at you. When Morsi was elected, he decreed that his picture should not be hung in any Government buildings and replaced the portraits of his predecessor with that of the name of Allah the most high. This policy has been reversed and many Egyptians are once again deifying their overlord.
The truth is the first casualty of any conflict or war. And I accept that the truth is much more complex than these 10 points. There have been mistakes – Morsi admitted as much. One being putting his trust in his general who happened to be a Mossad agent working for Israel, to protect the life of the President.
This betrayal that subsequently led to a bloody coup-d’ Etat which led to loss of innocent lives of Egyptians remains an act of highest treason against the people of Egypt. But, whether you loved or hated him, I hope some of these facts will help you gain a better understanding of this great leader that Morsi was.