Leading figure in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood dies at 85

LONDON (AP) — Ibrahim Munir, the former acting leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, died in London on Friday. He was 85.

According to a statement by the Muslim Brotherhood, Munir died in London, where he has lived in exile for the past 40 years, after having spent much of the 1950s and 1960s behind bars in Egypt, during the rule of late President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Over the past years, Munir had assumed the post of secretary general for international coordination for the London wing of the group, following a split in the Brotherhood amid internal disputes. The group slit in two camps in October 2021, with one faction based in Istanbul and the other in London.

The Brotherhood came to power in Egypt following elections a year after the 2011 popular uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian army in 2013 ousted the country’s Islamist President, Mohammed Morsi, who hailed from the Brotherhood, following mass protests over his divisive rule.

In August 2013, security forces killed hundreds of people when they dispersed two pro-Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo. Islamists responded by attacking churches and Christian properties, mainly in upper Egypt.

The authorities later outlawed the group and labelled it a terrorist organization. Authorities under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi have cracked down heavily on Brotherhood members and those suspected of links to the group, jailing thousands.

The Brotherhood’s leader, or supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, remains behind bars in Egypt under several life sentences, the last of which was upheld in July 2021. Nearly all of the group’s senior leaders have been imprisoned or live in exile.

Rights groups have criticized el-Sissi’s government as being more autocratic than even Mubarak’s. Thousands of political prisoners, rights groups estimate, have been charged with conspiring to commit crimes with an outlawed group — a reference to the Brotherhood. Thousands of others remain in custody without trial.

The country is among the world’s worst jailers of journalists, along with Turkey and China, according to 2021 data produced by the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Many of the major activists involved in the 2011 uprising are also behind bars, most of them charged under a 2013 draconian law that effectively bans all street protests.