The former president played his part in destroying the hopes of the revolution. But his treatment speaks volumes about the regime which ousted him

Real-life events can bear a remarkable symbolic power. The advent of Egypt’s first and only democratically elected president in 2012 was one of them. His collapse, in a courtroom “cage” on Monday, after years of inadequate medical care, is another. Egyptians who would otherwise shed no tears for Mohamed Morsi can still regret the nature of his passing and what it says about their stolen revolution. He helped to destroy their hopes. The man who ousted him has done worse.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate swept to power, after protests ended Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule in the Arab spring. But secular and liberal voters who lent the Islamist movement their votes to beat a Mubarak-regime rival were angered and frightened by Morsi’s own authoritarian bent. Many were sympathetic when his defence minister, General Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, led a coup, amid mass protests against the president. John Kerry, then US secretary of state, even claimed that the army “were restoring democracy”.

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