Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood’s former Murshid-e-Aam or chief guide, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, has breathed his last in a hospital in Cairo. He was 89.
Mohammed Mahdi Akef’s cause of death is said to be cancer and his family had been pleading with the Egyptian government to release him from prison to help them provide him with good medication. For the last several years he was in jail following the toppling of Muslim Brotherhood’s democratically elected government in Egypt.
Thousands of Muslim brotherhood members including the first democratically elected President of Egypt, Muhammad Morsi continue to languish in jails across Egypt on flimsy grounds following the 2013 toppling of government by the Egyptian military. Many Muslim Brotherhood leaders have lost their lives in prison while hundreds of top and mid level leaders have been given life imprisonment and even death in farce trial.
Mohammed Mahdi Akef, who was the Brotherhood chief from 2004 to 2010, was diagnosed with cancer last year. Her daughter Alia, while writing on her Facebook page said, “My Father is in God’s hands”.
Mohammed Mahdi Akef, despite his old age and health condition was initially convicted on violence-related charges and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The verdict was overturned on appeal, and he was facing a retrial. His family had recently launched an online campaign to demand his release for health reasons.
Born in the year 1928 in Kafr Awad Al Seneita, Akef obtained his Secondary Certificate of Education at Cairo- Fuad 1st Secondary School. He then joined the Higher Institute of Physical Education and graduated in May 1950, after which he worked as a teacher at Fuad 1st Secondary School.
He joined the Muslim Brotherhood 1940 that was flourishing under the guidance of its founder Hassan al Banna. He joined the Faculty of Law and assumed responsibility for the Brotherhood’s training camps at Ibrahim University. This was during the struggle against the British occupation in the Canal preceding the 1952 Revolution, after which he left responsibility to Kamaleddin Hussein, then National Guard Chief.
His arrest in the year 2013 was not the first. He had spent decades behind prison walls. He was arrested for the first time on 1 August 1954. He was sentenced to death in absentia before the ruling was commuted to life imprisonment. After almost two decades in jail, Akef was released in 1974 and was reappointed General Manager of Youth – a department affiliated to the Ministry of Reconstruction.
He then moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to work as an advisor for the World Assembly of Muslim Youth and was in charge of its camps and conferences. He was member of the Steering Bureau (Guidance Bureau) of the Muslim Brotherhood, since 1987 and was elected Member of Parliament in 1987 for the East Cairo electoral constituency.
He assumed the position of Supreme Guide of the Islamist organization from 2004 to 2010.