The Arab Spring which shook the Middle East after the first decade of the 2000s has been long forgotten. In Egypt, as in other countries of that region, dictatorships returned and old, repressive orders put back in place. In this stifling environment, the sudden death of Mohamed Morsi marks only a small moment in time. The Egyptian military, now effectively ruling that country under President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, has done its best to ensure the event goes without note and without comment. Morsi died while addressing the judge at a trial that has continued since he was jailed in 2013, just a year after he was elected as the first leader of Egypt to come to power on the basis of votes cast by the people. Representing the Muslim Brotherhood, the time during which he was elected was a euphoric one. The euphoria is over. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood is now banned and the strictures against it are tougher than ever before.
Morsi’s year-long rule over Egypt, before he was ousted in a military coup, brought to the country undeniable chaos as the economy went into tailspin, his Islamist-rooted agenda drew criticism and public discontent spilled onto the streets. But we should also remember that he was performing an almost impossible task – battling decades of rule in which the expression of dissenting views was not permitted and attempting to satisfy people whose expectations had risen sky high. The charges of espionage, cattle theft and other crimes against Morsi had continued to be heard since his arrest six years ago. As in so many other countries, the cogs and wheels of justice in Egypt turn slowly. But in the images captured through these years, Morsi appeared in court about once a week, confined inside a glass cage or kept in handcuffs. Independent observers and members of the Muslim Brotherhood also state he was kept in inhumane conditions while in jail, and subjected to torture. They have demanded a full investigation to inquire into this and the possible contribution of the conditions of detention to his sudden death, being attributed to a possible heart attack. Morsi, buried in a graveyard in Cairo, with his family denied permission to take him to his ancestral home, has gone. The Arab Spring and the series of exciting revolutions has fizzled out, leaving behind barely a trace on the map. But the impact of such events does not fade entirely. Perhaps new hope will spring one day from the legacy left by Morsi and his comrades and ignite within people living under oppression the will to fight back and break free of the chains which bind them.