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Egypt's Top Judges Resist Morsi Decrees

by Edward Yeranian November 24, 2012

Egypt's judiciary has joined the growing opposition to a recent set of decrees by President Mohamed Morsi, which have provoked public outrage. And judges in Alexandria have announced they will go on strike to protest the decrees.

Egypt's highest judicial body, the Supreme Judicial Council, is condemning the decrees granting President Mohamed Morsi sweeping powers, branding them “an unprecedented attack” on the independence of the judiciary. And a broad spectrum of Egypt's judiciary is expressing support for the country's outgoing judicial head, Abdel Mejid Mahmoud, who was fired by the president Thursday.
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Mahmoud received a standing ovation by members of Egypt's Judge's Club, after telling them that he will appeal the president's decision to the judiciary. Mahmoud said he will insist on the application of all legal articles, including those that deal with the powers of the judiciary and the position of general prosecutor.

At the same time that Mahmoud was receiving the applause of his fellow judges, newly named General Prosecutor Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah told a press conference that he will remain impartial towards both those who oppose and support him. Abdallah said that he will not take sides in the current judicial political divide and remains equidistant from all parties, including those in favor of and against his nomination.

Judges in Egypt's second largest city of Alexandria also announced that they would hold a work stoppage until President Morsi withholds the decrees which have fueled a firestorm. Twenty six political parties and three former presidential candidates back a widespread protest movement in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where thousands of demonstrators massed Friday.

Prominent Egyptian democracy advocate Mohammed ElBaradei has called on Egypt's president to rescind the near absolute powers he has granted himself. The Nobel laureate addressed crowds gathered in Cairo's central square on Saturday.

Said Sadek, who teaches political sociology at the American University in Cairo, said the president has pushed all but his most loyal supporters to turn against him.

"Now, the president is becoming more and more isolated," Sadek said. "Yesterday, when he was giving the speech in front of his own presidential palace, only Muslim Brotherhood people and Salafis attended, while in Tahrir Square you had the people, the groups that led the revolution, and they are all against this new constitutional proclamation."

Sadek went on to call Morsi's controversial decrees “a poisoned cake full of dictatorship or autocratic rule.” He said those decrees are a “cover-up for the Muslim Brotherhood taking over the country and creating a theocratic state.”

Revolutionary forces opposed to the president's move have called for a new popular protest in Tahrir Square on Tuesday. Some demonstrators have set up a tent camp in the square reminiscent of last year's popular protests against the government of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. Partisans of Mr. Morsi are also calling for a demonstration to support him Sunday.



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