June 18, 2019

During his trial on June 17 at a court in Cairo, former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi fainted before a judge and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital; as he suffered from kidney and liver disease, authorities attributed his death to natural causes. A day later, on June 18, Morsi was hastily buried in the presence of two of his sons and some of his relatives in Cairo's Nasr City. Morsi's family had requested to bury him in his place of birth - in Ash Sharqia Governorate - but authorities refused. While nothing nefarious appears to have been involved in Morsi’s death, the rushed burial has raised questions about the circumstances surrounding his death.


Morsi's Death Unlikely to Prompt Social Unrest

Morsi had been a senior leader within the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood and served as president from 2012 until his removal from power in July 2013 by a coup led by former Defense Minister and current President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. El-Sisi then designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and banned the movement in the country. While it remains very unlikely that Morsi's death will prompt demonstrations given that they and the Muslim Brotherhood are proscribed, Egyptian authorities may maintain heightened security measures nationwide in the next several days and weeks as a precaution. Heightened security measures will likely include an increased number

of checkpoints, as well as the deployment of police and army personnel to public squares and prominent government buildings in Cairo and Ash Sharqia. Security will also likely remain heightened near potential terrorist targets, including government and military installations, tourist venues, and places of worship. Police may establish checkpoints and roadblocks near such locations, potentially prompting associated ground transport disruptions.

Militant groups could attempt to conduct attacks against security forces, civilians, and religious minority groups to avenge Morsi's death. Egypt is currently under a nationwide state of emergency through at least July 2019. The declaration allows the increased deployment of security personnel, monitoring, and censorship of online communications, and additional powers to arrest and detain those suspected of intending to harm national security. Despite this, militants continue to conduct occasional shootings and bombings targeting military and police forces and religious minorities nationwide. Most militant attacks take place in the northern Sinai Peninsula, but occasional attacks also occur in other parts of the country, including Cairo.


Political Landscape in Egypt

Morsi's death has raised serious concerns about the treatment of dissidents and political prisoners in Egypt. Some 60,000 political prisoners are believed to be in Egyptian prisons. The government has intensified its crackdown on journalists and political dissidents, tightened its control over media outlets, and has regularly engaged in widespread censorship. Since 2017, authorities have blocked and shut down hundreds of websites and media accounts of rights groups. Egyptian authorities argue that the new measures are designed to fight instability and mitigate the threat of militancy in the country. However, the new measures are intended to discourage dissent and any criticism of El-Sisi and his policies.


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