CAIRO: Egypt’s Islamist ex-president Mohamed Mursi was buried in a small family ceremony early on Tuesday a day after he suffered a fatal heart attack in court, his sons said, as supporters posted messages of grief and anger.
The first democratically elected head of state in Egypt’s modern history, who was deposed by the army in 2013, was laid to rest in Cairo next to the graves of other leaders of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, Abdullah Mohamed Mursi told Reuters.
“We washed his noble body at Tora prison hospital, read prayers for him at the prison hospital”, another son, Ahmed Mursi, wrote on Facebook.
The Muslim Brotherhood has described Mursi’s death as a “full-fledged murder” and called for mass gatherings to mark his passing. Egyptian officials have denied accusations that his health was neglected.
Life appeared normal in Egypt’s capital, where authorities have cracked down on Islamists and other opponents since Mursi’s overthrow. Egyptian media, which is tightly controlled, gave the news little attention – only one newspaper, the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm, mentioned him on its front page.
But hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members took to the streets of Turkey’s capital and Istanbul, some of them blaming Cairo authorities for the death.
Other former allies of Mursi and opponents of Egypt’s current president, former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, expressed their condolences on social media, some condemning the conditions in which Mursi had been held.
Mursi died on Monday after collapsing in a Cairo court while on trial on espionage charges, authorities and a medical source said. The 67-year-old had been in jail since being toppled after barely a year in power, following mass protests against his rule.
Mursi had been sentenced to more than 40 years in prison in separate trials, including for leading an outlawed group, spying for foreign country and terrorism.
He and other imprisoned Brotherhood leaders have rejected the rulings and denounced the trials as politically motivated to justify Mursi’s overthrow.
There was a heavy security presence on Monday night around the Cairo prison where Mursi had been held and in Sharqiya, where security sources said the interior ministry had declared a state of alert.
No significant increase in security in central Cairo was noticeable on Tuesday morning.
Mursi’s death is a sensitive moment for Egyptian authorities. Under Sisi, who as army chief led Mursi’s ouster, they have conducted a crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood and its followers, but say the group presents a continuing security threat.
The Brotherhood says it is a non-violent movement.
The death will increase international pressure on the Egyptian government over its human rights record, especially conditions in prisons where thousands of Islamists and secular activists are held.
Amnesty International called for an investigation. A British parliamentary panel said last year that Mursi received inadequate medical treatment for his diabetes and liver illness and was being kept in solitary confinement, which they warned could put his life in danger.
Egypt’s State Information Service, which liaises with the foreign media, said Mursi had submitted his last official request to a court regarding his health condition in November 2017, asking to be treated at his own expense. It said the court approved the request, and that an official report from the same year found Mursi was in good health but suffering from diabetes.
Turkey’s president, Qatar’s emir and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas all paid tribute to Mursi and Iran expressed regret over Mursi’s death.
“With great sadness and deep sorrow I received the news of the passing of Dr Mohamed Mursi. I ask God to accept him with his great mercy,” said former leftist presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi.
“An independent and transparent international investigation must be carried out to find the cause of the death,” said Amr Darrag, ex-minister of planning and international Cooperation under Mursi.
“The Egyptian people won’t let this crime pass lightly even after a while,” he added.
Comments from ordinary Egyptians were polarized, with Brotherhood supporters expressing anger at his treatment and accusing opponents of “gloating” over his death.
Yemeni Nobel Prize winner Tawakkol Karman said: “I mourn, for myself and all the free people of the world, the death of great striver in the path of freedom great president Mohamed Mursi …. President Mursi has gone and Sisi, one of the curses that befell Egypt, has remained.”
Egyptian-born leading Muslim Brotherhood cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi issued a statement mourning Mursi from his exile in Qatar, where his presence has infuriated both Egypt and its Sunni Gulf allies.