Mass Protests Across Egypt demand President Morsi reverse power grabbing decree and many call for his resignation
Jihan Hafiz: Chaos has erupted in the streets of Cairo yet again after President Mohammed Morsi expanded his executive powers. The decree orders the dissolving of the judiciary, which is mostly made up of former regime judges, and the retrial of former dictator Hosni Mubarak, his officials and others accused of killing Egyptians during the revolution. The measures safeguard the mostly constituent Assembly dominated by Islamists, excluding the liberal and secular members who withdrew from the process. It also grants the same protection for the Shura council, parliament’s upper body also dominated by Islamists. The announcement came after President Morsi brokered the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas following Israel’s violent bombardment of the Gaza strip last week. Hailed internationally as a rising star in the Arab world after the truce was initiated, Morsi is being condemned at home as Egypt’s new dictator.
Immediately, protests erupted nationwide over the decision. Outside the high court, clashes went on for hours between police forces and demonstrators as Egypt’s top judges called for a nationwide strike.
Joining the opposition to Mosri, former Presidential candidates and political parties.
By Sunday, Egypt’s stock market plummeted following the announcement. President Morsi claims his orders are to “protect the revolution” and expedite a political process that time and time again has been halted by the judiciary and bickering members drafting the constitution. In June, the constitutional court dissolved the Islamist dominated lower body of parliament and limited the powers of the executive branch. In response to the popular outrage, Morsi says the decree will be lifted after the constitution is drafted and determined through a national referendum.
Egypt, now hailed for it’s elections under the military rule, is facing a volatile political upheaval. Islamists have come out criticizing the President including one of his relatives, Ahmed Fahmi, a brotherhood member and the chairman of the Shura council, the upper body of parliament. Other prominent Muslim Brothers have also voiced their opposition to Morsi’s decision. Unrest against Morsi spread to Brotherhood strongholds throughout Egypt like this one in Bahayria. Protesters, mostly Islamists are heard chanting slogans from Egypt’s uprising last year.
On the streets, during the week long battles in downtown Cairo, the same weaponry used during the military council and the Mubarak regime are still being used on protesters. One demonstrator was shot to death with buckshot last week during the commemoration of the Mohammed Mahmoud street battles that claimed the lives of over 45 Egyptians.
Despite promised reforms, protesters battling the despised Egyptian police force insist they face the same brutality they experienced during the military council’s transitional period and the Mubarak regime.
Since the decree was issued on Thursday, thousands have been camping out in the iconic Tahrir square vowing to remain until the President lifts his orders. Massive protests have been called for Tuesday while the Muslim Brotherhood mobilized its supporters to hold rival demonstrations in support of the president.
The latest fiasco is seen as yet another setback in Egypt’s prolonged and violent transitional period.
Jihan Hafiz for the Real News.