CAIRO Nov 4 When Muslim Brotherhood leader
Mohamed Mursi broke out of an Egyptian jail during Hosni
Mubarak's final days in office in 2011, he little thought he
would end up behind bars again.
Less than three years later, the deposed president's trial
for inciting violence, which starts on Monday, could land him in
prison for the rest of his life, or worse.
After decades of repression under Egyptian autocrats, the
Muslim Brotherhood won every election since a popular uprising
toppled Mubarak in 2011, eventually propelling Mursi to power.
The U.S.-trained engineer's victory in the country's first
free presidential election broke a tradition of domination by
men from the armed forces, which had provided every Egyptian
leader since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952.
The euphoria that greeted the end of an era of presidents
who ruled like pharaohs did not last long.
Mursi promised a moderate Islamist agenda to steer Egypt
into a new democratic era where autocracy would be replaced by
transparent government that respected human rights and revived
the fortunes of a powerful Arab state long in decline.
The stocky, bespectacled Mursi told Egyptians he would
deliver an "Egyptian renaissance with an Islamic foundation".
Instead, he alienated millions who accused him of usurping
powers, imposing the Brotherhood's conservative brand of Islam
and mismanaging the economy, all of which he denied.
The son of a peasant farmer was something of an accidental
president, thrown into the race at the last moment by the
disqualification on a technicality of millionaire businessman
Khairat al-Shater, by far the group's preferred choice.
Mursi is a civil engineer and lecturer with a doctorate from
the University of Southern California. He has spoken of a simple
childhood in a village in the Nile Delta province of Sharqia,
recalling how his mother taught him prayer and the Koran.
In power, Mursi made the cardinal mistake in Egyptian
politics; he alienated the military. The army chief that Mursi
appointed because he was known as a religious man, General Abdel
Fattah al-Sisi, eventually turned on him.
Detecting mass discontent in the streets, Sisi pushed Mursi
to reach compromises with his political opponents. He refused,
and reached out mainly to the Brotherhood and other Islamists.
A youth movement called Tamarud - "rebellion" in Arabic -
began a petition calling for Mursi to step down. Eventually
millions took to the streets demanding that he go.
Sisi, who was Mubarak's military intelligence chief,
appeared on television on July 3 to announce the end of Mursi's
troubled one-year presidency and plans for elections.
Mursi had cited fear of judgement day as one reason for
seeking the top office. He said: "We are worried that God will
ask us, on the Day of Reckoning: 'What did you do when you saw
that the nation was in need of sacrifice and effort?"
A severe security crackdown has since left Mursi's
Brotherhood in disarray. Riot police backed by army snipers
crushed Cairo protest camps calling for his reinstatement,
Top Brotherhood leaders have been rounded up, including the
group's supreme guide. Some fear the army-backed government will
bring back the iron-fisted rule of the Mubarak years, but most
Egyptians back Sisi.
Mursi, who has been held in an undisclosed location since
his arrest four months ago, now faces a day of reckoning in
court at the same police academy where Mubarak is on trial.