The Atlantic

Egypt’s Only Democratic Leader Helped Kill Its Democracy

Mohamed Morsi, who died yesterday, embodied the hope and flaws of Egypt’s revolution.
Source: Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

In June 2012, I stood with hundreds of thousands of Mohamed Morsi’s supporters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where they prayed that the Egyptian military, still powerful behind the scenes, would allow a fair ballot count. Independent tallies suggested that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi had squeaked past the military’s preferred candidate in Egypt’s first-ever free presidential election—the only question was whether the vote would be rigged.

“We will stay in this square until Morsi wins,” an engineer named Khaled told me. “We will stay here even after he wins.” When the results were announced, pandemonium broke out. Khaled hugged me, a complete stranger, with such force that his eyeglasses snapped.

At Morsi’s nearby campaign headquarters, his spokesman, Yahia Hamed, waxed poetic when

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