Egypt's Mursi faces judicial revolt over decree

Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:53pm EST
 

By Tom Perry

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi faced a rebellion from judges who accused him on Saturday of expanding his powers at their expense, deepening a crisis that has triggered violence in the street and exposed the country's deep divisions.

The Judges' Club, a body representing judges across Egypt, called for a strike during a meeting interrupted with chants demanding the "downfall of the regime" - the rallying cry in the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year.

Mursi's political opponents and supporters, representing the divide between newly empowered Islamists and their critics, called for rival demonstrations on Tuesday over a decree that has triggered concern in the West.

Issued late on Thursday, it marks an effort by Mursi to consolidate his influence after he successfully sidelined Mubarak-era generals in August. The decree defends from judicial review decisions taken by Mursi until a new parliament is elected in a vote expected early next year.

It also shields the Islamist-dominated assembly writing Egypt's new constitution from a raft of legal challenges that have threatened the body with dissolution, and offers the same protection to the Islamist-controlled upper house of parliament.

Egypt's highest judicial authority, the Supreme Judicial Council, said the decree was an "unprecedented attack" on the independence of the judiciary. The Judges' Club, meeting in Cairo, called on Mursi to rescind it.

That demand was echoed by prominent opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei. "There is no room for dialogue when a dictator imposes the most oppressive, abhorrent measures and then says 'let us split the difference'," he said.

"I am waiting to see, I hope soon, a very strong statement of condemnation by the U.S., by Europe and by everybody who really cares about human dignity," he said in an interview with Reuters and the Associated Press.   Continued...

 
Ahmed al-Zind, head of Egypt's Judges Club, speaks during a meeting of judges at the club in Cairo November 24, 2012. Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi faced a rebellion on Saturday from judges who accused him of expanding his powers at their expense, deepening a crisis that triggered calls for more protests following a day of violence across Egypt. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih