With Morsi's sentence, an end to second Egyptian revolution
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Recently, an Egyptian court sentenced ousted President Mohamed Morsi to death over his part in a mass prison break in 2011 that helped topple then-President Hosni Muburak. The released prisoners were convicted felons associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. By 2012, Morsi was the elected president, installing a Muslim Brotherhood-led regime.

In passing capital punishment, Judge Shaaban al-Shami referred his death sentence to the nation's leading theologian, or mufti, for his nonbinding opinion. That decision will be rendered on June 2, 2015.


Morsi was Egypt's first freely elected president, a condition that initially led to widespread support in the nation and abroad. But very few counted on his rapid attempt to Islamicize the country.

He lowered the marriage age to 8, the same age as Aisha, one of Muhammad's brides. He countenanced female circumcision. He spoke to al Qaeda leaders about a bridgehead — if not a separate state — in the Sinai. He ignored the desecration of Coptic shrines and churches. He smashed any opposition including peaceful demonstrators.

At the moment he is serving a 22-year sentence following conviction on charges leaked to the murder of 12 unarmed demonstrators outside the presidential palace in 2012. In fact, Morsi escaped a death sentence over allegations he and his aides passed state secrets to foreign organizations including Hamas and Hezbollah.

By 2013, the country had enough. Thirty-three million people took to the streets. Morsi's field general, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, was told to fire on the protestors. He refused the order. Despite the overwhelmingly large majority of Muslims, the nation turned against the Muslim Brotherhood.

Morsi's crimes were reported incrementally, but the general picture is one of overreaching. That he is sentenced to death for one crime does not explain his culpability in trying to radicalize the nation. Morsi saw himself as the Sunni version of the Iranian Shiite Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. He was regarded as the answer to anarchy after Muburak was forced from office.

Many American political figures were seduced by the fact that Morsi was elected democratically. American politicians on both sides of the aisle, from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) embraced the idea that the Muslim Brotherhood could bring stability to Egypt, and naively that Morsi was open to negotiation with the West. When al-Sisi restored order through the auspices of the military, many analysts called his accession a military coup. However, the demonstrators on the street saw this as more than the restoration of order, but as widespread repudiation of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a real sense, Morsi's sentence is the end to the second Egyptian revolution. Al-Sisi is now the democratically elected president; the Muslim Brotherhood is banned and a new constitution has been adopted — one that includes a provision for impeachment of the president. Morsi still has his supporters. There are an estimated 500,000 Muslim Brotherhood members residing in Egypt (out of a total population of 91 million). According to intelligence sources, their goals are obvious: assassinate al-Sisi, create public disorder and regain political power.

But the tide has shifted. Public support for the Muslim Brotherhood has waned, despite the fact Cairo was the birthplace for the organization in 1928. Egyptians are searching for a pathway to economic modernization. They are riding the al-Sisi horse into the future, hoping against all of the obvious impediments that he can create jobs and the basis for foreign investment.

Whether the mufti agrees with the court's decision on Morsi's fate or not, the Morsi chapter in Egyptian history is closed. The Muslim Brotherhood may be waiting in the wings, but its wings have been clipped.

London is president of the London Center for Policy Research.