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Question of the Day
The U.S. calls for Egyptians to “resolve their differences over these important issues peacefully and through democratic dialogue,” she said.
On Thursday, Morsi unilaterally issued amendments to the interim constitution that made all his decisions immune to judicial review or court orders. He gave similar protection to the constitutional panel and the upper house of parliament, which is dominated by the Brotherhood and also faced possible disbanding by the courts.
Morsi, who holds legislative as well as executive powers, also declared his power to take any steps necessary to prevent “threats to the revolution,” public safety or the workings of state institutions. Rights activists warned that the vague — and unexplained — wording could give him even greater power than those Mubarak held under emergency laws throughout his rule.
The decree would be in effect until a new constitution is approved and parliamentary elections are held, not expected until the Spring.
The state media described Morsi’s decree as a “corrective revolution,” and supporters presented the move as the only way to break through the political deadlock preventing the adoption of a new constitution.
Amnesty International said the new powers “trample the rule of law and herald a new era of repression.” It said a new “law protecting the revolution” also announced Thursday could provide for detaining people for up to six months without charge.
Prominent Egyptian democracy activist Mohamed ElBaradei called Morsi a “new pharaoh.” The president’s one-time ally, the April 6 movement, warned that the polarization could bring a “civil war.”
One of Morsi’s aides, Coptic Christian thinker Samer Marqous, resigned to protest the “undemocratic” decree.
“This is a crime against Egypt and a declaration of the end of January revolution to serve the interest of the Muslim Brotherhood dictatorship,” wrote Ibrahim Eissa, chief editor of daily Al-Tahrir. “The revolution is over and the new dictator has killed her.”
In front of the presidential palace, Muslim Brotherhood supporters and other Islamists chanted “the people support the president’s decree,” pumping their fists in the air.
In rival protests in the southern city of Assiut, ultraconservative Islamists of the Salafi tend and former Jihadists outnumbered liberal and leftists, such as the April 6 youth groups. The two sides exchanged insults and briefly scuffled with firsts and stones.
With his decrees, Morsi was playing to widespread discontent with the judiciary. Many — even Brotherhood opponents — are troubled by the presence of so many Mubarak era-judges and prosecutors, who they say have failed to strongly enough prosecute the old regime’s top officials and security forces for crimes including the killing of protesters.
In his decrees, Morsi fired the controversial prosecutor general and created “revolutionary” judicial bodies to put Mubarak and some of his top aides on trial a second time for protester killings. Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for failing to stop police from shooting at protesters, but many were angry he was not found guilty of actually ordering the crackdown during the uprising against his rule.
In his speech Friday. Morsi told supporters that his decisions were meant to stop those “taking shelter under judiciary.”
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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