Top Egyptian courts go on strike

Nov. 28, 2012 at 6:03 PM
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CAIRO, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Egypt's two highest appellate courts went on strike Wednesday, intensifying pressure on President Mohamed Morsi following his assumption of sweeping new powers.

The Supreme Constitutional Court accused Morsi of blackmail, Islamist leaders in the constitutional assembly accelerated work aimed at adopting a new constitution by the end of the day, and police fired tear gas on tens of thousands of protesters who gathered in Tahrir Square to demand Morsi resign. In addition the Muslim Brotherhood called for a major demonstration Saturday, The New York Times reported.

The developments occurred amid expectations that the Supreme Constitutional Court will rule by Sunday that the constitutional assembly should be dissolved, which would further disrupt Egypt's efforts to achieve political stability following decades of rule under former President Hosni Mubarak, the newspaper said.

Morsi is facing his most serious domestic challenge since taking office in June, after issuing a decree last week giving himself sweeping powers that would shield his decisions from legal challenge until a new Parliament is elected and Egypt has a new constitution. He has said the decree was intended to head off a court-ordered dissolution of the assembly.

The protesters demand Morsi reverse the decree or resign, Egyptian media reports said.

At least two people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes involving anti-Morsi protesters, Muslim Brotherhood supporters and police in Cairo, Port Said, Mahallah and Mansoura, Ahram Online said.

"Today's protests are to overthrow oppression and stand up to the new dictatorship of Morsi, his decree and a constitution far removed from the revolution," Haytham Mohamedeen of the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists movement told the BBC.

Hossam Khairallah, former deputy of Egyptian General Intelligence and an expert in national security, described the current situation as "delicate." In an interview with Ahram Online, he cautioned the presidency to manage the current crisis carefully. The government must be aware of the message it is sending "whether to the public or the state's major institutions or international community, keeping in mind Egypt's international image, which is in very bad condition at the moment," he said.

The 35th Cairo International Film Festival may be postponed after Egyptian film producers and directors withdrew their film in solidarity with anti-government protesters, al-Arabiya said. It will be the second time in three years the festival has been postponed, the pan-Arab network said.

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