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Egypt mass protests challenge Islamist president Mohammed Morsi


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Reda Hassan, owner of a car parts shop, said he voted for Morsi in this past summer’s election, but "he fooled us. He did nothing since he was elected. ... Now Tahrir says go away."

A fellow protester, Saad Salem Nada, said, "I am a Muslim and he made me hate Muslims because of the dictatorship in the name of religion. In the past, we had one Mubarak, now we have hundreds," referring to the Brotherhood.

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In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, some 15,000 anti-Morsi protesters gathered outside the main court at the center of the ancient city. Thousands of Morsi supporters arrived at the same spot later and there were scuffles between the two sides. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

On Monday, Morsi met with the nation’s top judges and tried to win their acceptance of his decrees. But the move was dismissed by many in the opposition and the judiciary as providing no real concessions.

Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali, said Morsi told the judges that he acted within his rights as the nation’s sole source of legislation, assuring them that the decrees were temporary and did not in any way infringe on the judiciary. He underlined repeatedly that the president had no plans to change or amend his decrees.

According to a presidential statement late Monday, Morsi told the judges that his decree meant that any decisions he makes on "issues of sovereignty" are immune from judicial review.

The vaguely worded statement did not define those issues, but they were widely interpreted to cover declaration of war, imposition of martial law, breaking diplomatic relations with a foreign nation or dismissing a Cabinet. Morsi’s original edict, however, explicitly gives immunity to all his decisions and there was no sign it had been changed.

Monday’s presidential statement did not touch on the immunity that Morsi gave the constitutional assembly or the upper chamber of parliament, known as the Shura Council. It also did not affect the edict that the president can take any measures he sees as necessary to stop threats to the revolution, stability or public institutions. Many see that edict as granting Morsi unlimited emergency powers.

The Shura Council does not have lawmaking authorities but, in the absence of the more powerful lower chamber, the People’s Assembly, it is the only popularly elected, national body where the Brotherhood and other Islamists have a majority. The People’s Assembly was dissolved by a court ruling in June.

Rights lawyers and activists, however, dismissed Morsi’s assurances as an attempt to defuse the crisis without offering concrete concessions.


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One of the lawyers, Ahmed Ragheb, described the presidential statement and Ali’s comments as "playing with words."

"This is not what Egyptians are objecting to and protesting about," he said. "If the president wanted to resolve the crisis, there should be an amendment to his constitutional declaration."

On Tuesday, the influential Judges’ Club, a sort of union led by an outspoken Morsi critic, vowed in a statement to escalate its resistance to the decrees. Judges and prosecutors in some parts of the country held a strike for a third day, leaving many courtrooms empty across the nation.

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AP correspondent Maggie Michael contributed to this report.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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