Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s new president, has many firsts – and 2 American children


McClatchy Newspapers

With his victory in Egypt’s presidential election, Mohammed Morsi broke a number of Egyptian records: he is the first democratically elected president in the Egypt’s history, the first civilian president in 60 years, the first Islamist ever elected to lead an Arab country, and the first person not named Hosni Mubarak to be named Egypt’s president in 31 years.

He also is the father of two children, among five in all, who can claim U.S. citizenship through their birth while he was living in California, first as a student at the University of Southern California, from which he received a Ph.D. in engineering in 1982, then later as an assistant professor of engineering at the California State University at Northridge. He also has three grandchildren.

He returned to Egypt in 1985 to head the engineering department at Zagazig University in Egypt’s Sharkia governorate, the same region where Morsi had been born on Aug. 20, 1951. The area is in the Nile River delta, about 125 miles north of Cairo.

He became a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1977, when the movement was banned, and was elected to Parliament for the first time in 2000, where he headed the Brotherhood’s unofficial parliamentary bloc from 2000 to 2005, when he lost his re-election effort.

While Morsi on Sunday declared that his government would abide by Egypt’s international commitments, including its peace treaty with Israel, he has a long record of opposition to Egyptian-Israeli ties. He was elected to the Zionism Resistance Council in his home governorate and later cofounded the Egyptian Commission for Resisting the Zionist Project.

In 2006, Morsi was detained for seven months after participating in major Cairo protests over the government’s crackdown on judges who spoke publicly of rigging elections on behalf of Mubarak’s now dissolved National Democratic Party.

On Jan. 28, 2011, three days after the first anti-Mubarak protests last year, Morsi was detained along with 34 leading officers of the Muslim Brotherhood but escaped the next day when security guards left their posts at the Wadi el Natrun maximum security prison where he was being held.

He was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s guidance council before becoming head of its Freedom and Justice Party, a position he resigned Sunday.

Sabry is a McClatchy special correspondent.

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