Mohammad Affan is a researcher and training director at the Al-Sharq Forum.
The tragic death of the ousted president Mohammed Morsi in a courtroom cage elicited minimal reaction inside Egypt. Apart from small confrontations between angry protestors and police forces in his hometown and social media campaigns mourning his loss, there was little else. Egyptians seem to be politically fatigued, withdrawn, and ambivalent under President Abdel-Fattah Al Sisi’s fiercely authoritarian regime.
For the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, this shocking event was an opportunity to shed light on the agony of the political prisoners suffering all sorts of maltreatment. In its official statement, the group blamed the Egyptian regime for Morsi’s death, held it fully responsible criminally and politically, and demanded an international investigation into his death.
Furthermore, the group aims to iconize the late Mohammed Morsi as “the Martyr President,” in an effort to to reunify its members behind the leadership and galvanize their loyalty in an organization where the leaders’ sacrifice is an essential part of their legitimacy. However, these endeavors are doomed to fail. It is highly unlikely that their call for an investigation will be taken seriously. The international community is currently neither willing nor capable of putting pressure on the Egyptian regime to improve its human rights records.
Most importantly, Morsi’s death will not mend the broken bonds within the organization. Instead, it will further deepen its crisis. Internal voices calling for holding the leaders accountable for their failure to deal with the coup have become louder. Since the 2013 coup, the Brotherhood has called for Morsi to be restored to power as both a moral claim and a strategic goal, despite it being controversial and unfeasible. No longer a possible rallying call, the Brotherhood leaders urgently need to develop a new narrative, mission, and strategy to keep the unity and functionality of their organization.