Muslim Brotherhood’s former supreme guide ‘Akef’ dies in prison at 89

The Muslim Brotherhood’s former supreme guide Mahdi Akef died in prison on Friday (Sept. 22) at the age of 89 due to medical negligence.

After four years of suffering from cancer in prison without receiving proper medical care, only last January he was transferred to a private hospital after appeals from his family and rights activists due to his health deterioration.

The news of his death was made public online by his daughter Alia.

Akef, who served as the Brotherhood’s supreme guide from January 2004 to January 2010, was arrested one day after the Egyptian military, led by Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, the Defence Minister at the time, overthrew Egypt’s first democratically president Mohamed Morsi in a coup d’etat in 2013.

A few months ago, five prominent Egyptian human rights groups called on the authorities to release the former Muslim Brotherhood leader, due to his serious health condition. The NGOs include El-Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture, Cairo Centre for Human Rights Studies and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

“Two days ago, Akef fell down in Kasr Al-Aini Hospital,” explained the NGOs, “and broke his left thigh and injured his abdomen. No one helped him because of the heavy security presence. Even nurses are not allowed to help him without permission from the security.” They pointed out that the former Brotherhood leader has bile duct cancer which has spread to his liver and lungs, causing the organs to fail. “After making calls to all the relevant parties and the intervention of the National Council for Human Rights, it was agreed for Akef to be treated at the expense of his family.”

According to normal practice, said the groups, Akef is entitled to immediate release because of his health. They criticized the reluctance of the authorities to make the decision even though he was almost 90 years old.

Akef was arrested in the wake of the military coup carried out against the first ever freely-elected Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013. He was accused, tried and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The Court of Cassation annulled his sentence in January this year, but the authorities refused to release him and decided on a retrial.

Mohamed Mahdi Akef was born on 12 July, 1928 and was the seventh Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the first to have the title of “former Supreme Guide” as he left office voluntarily and gave another candidate the chance to run for the post. He has spent more than half of his life behind bars since the era of Gamal Abdel Nasser.