Egypt's Mohamed Morsi likely 'more popular' after death

Africa

CAIRO - Unpopular in power and deposed after huge protests, Egypt's ex-president Mohamed Morsi could be humanized in the eyes of many Egyptians after his death in court Monday.

"It is sad, from a strictly human point of view", a trader in central Cairo said of the former head of state, who had been imprisoned since his 2013 fall from power, and was buried on Tuesday.

"He was old and ill. Whatever one thinks of the political situation, his death while the court was in-session shows that those who judged him were not good people", the trader said, on condition of anonymity.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt and he was appealing a 2015 death sentence, making both the man and his organization extremely sensitive topics in the country.

While his supporters have quickly given him the status of a "martyr", Egyptian authorities appear keen to avoid a wave of empathy from citizens, who largely favored the uprising that deposed him.

His rapid burial on Tuesday morning took place extremely discreetly and under heavy surveillance, while the public and the press were forbidden from attending.

UPRISING

Morsi came to power in 2012 in elections that took place the year after a popular uprising that deposed president Hosni Mubarak, who had headed an authoritarian regime for three decades.

Spurred on by mass demonstrations against Morsi's own rule, the army ousted him on July 3, 2013, and Egypt declared the Brotherhood a "terrorist organization".

Ever since, the government has cracked down heavily on opponents, especially on members of the Islamist organization.

The official narrative, regularly broadcast by Egyptian TV channels -- which are all behind the regime -- is that the Brotherhood is "terrorists" who harm the country's interests.

COVERAGE

Since Morsi's death was announced, some channels have hosted "experts" denouncing the "violence" and "lies" perpetrated by the group.