Egypt's highest body of judges has called President Mohamed Morsi's recent decrees of authority “an unprecedented attack” on the independence of the judiciary, and judges in Alexandria have gone on strike in protest.
Members of the judges' group, the Supreme Judicial Council, made their statement Saturday after an emergency meeting. Alexandria judges announced they will halt their work until the decree is withdrawn.
President Morsi on Thursday declared that his decisions are protected from judicial review, sparking outrage and protests in the streets of major cities.
Demonstrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square continued into Saturday, spurring Egyptian security forces to fire tear gas at protesters, many of whom spent the night in the iconic protest hub.
On Friday, protesters in several Egyptian cities attacked the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood party, as rival pro- and anti-government groups demonstrated in Cairo about the new presidential decree. In the cities of Port Said, Ismailia and Alexandria, crowds lobbed stones and explosives at Muslim Brotherhood offices.
The protests came a day after President Morsi put himself above oversight and declared that his decisions cannot be appealed by the courts or any other authority.
In a speech to supporters Friday at the presidential palace, Mr. Morsi said he wants to move Egypt forward as a stable and safe nation and does not want sole control of the country.
Mr. Morsi's decree also bars Egypt's judiciary from dissolving the upper house of parliament and an assembly drafting a new constitution – two bodies dominated by Mr. Morsi's Islamist allies.
In addition, Mr. Morsi has ordered retrials of former officials who used violence in efforts to suppress last year's popular revolution against longtime president Hosni Mubarak.
President Morsi's action follows international praise he received for mediating a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza..
The U.S. government has expressed concern about his decrees.