Former Leader of Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Mahdi Akef Dies at 89

2009. Credit Tarek Mostafa  Reuters

2009. Credit Tarek Mostafa Reuters

The former leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Mahdi Akef, has died in a Cairo hospital aged 89. But the military toppled the group after widespread protests against it.

Akef, who was born in 1928, headed the Brotherhood from 2004 until 2010.

After his release, Nasser's successor, Anwar el-Sadat, embraced the Muslim Brotherhood and Mr. Akef was appointed to a government post. A year later, the Brotherhood participated in the country's parliamentary elections, winning 20 percent of the seats. It became the most organized opposition force against president Hosni Mubarak's regime, campaigning against police brutality, corruption and rampant inequality.

Mubarak was overthrown in 2011 after an 18-day uprising. But two days after larger than anticipated crowds showed up on January 25, the uprising's first day, the group announced its official participation-prompting a swift round-up of its leaders.

Akef had suffered from chronic problems linked to old age. For him, Israel was "a cancer to root out" and the Holocaust a "myth". Mr. Akef was imprisoned from 1954 until 1974. On his return, he joined the Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau in 1987 and was elected to parliament.

Akef had been taken to central Cairo's Al-Qasr al-Aini hospital following a rapid deterioration of his health, Brotherhood lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud said in a press statement.

After Morsi's ouster he was sentenced to life in prison, meaning 25 years of detention, for his alleged role in the deaths of 12 anti-Brotherhood protesters who tried to attack the Brotherhood's Cairo headquarters in June 2013.

The Court of Cassation overturned that verdict and ordered a new trial that left him behind bars.

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