Egyptian Islamists Rally for Morsi

Posted December 1st, 2012 at 8:35 am (UTC-5)
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Thousands of supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi are holding a rally outside Cairo University.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called for rallies across Egypt Saturday in support of Mr. Morsi and a draft constitution set for a national referendum.

Meanwhile, thousands of protesters continue to demonstrate in Cairo's Tahrir Square for a ninth straight day against the president and the draft constitution.

State courts had joined a strike by members of the national judiciary Friday to protest a decree giving President Morsi extraordinary powers. State court judges announced a suspension of work, except in urgent cases, demanding President Morsi repeal the decree that puts him above judiciary oversight.

Mr. Morsi has been waging a battle with Egypt's judges, many of whom are opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood that dominates Egypt's parliament. The president is a former member of the once-banned group.

A constitutional panel, boycotted by several Christian and liberal members, retained the principles of Islamic law as the main source of legislation. The panel rushed through the approval of the draft constitution Friday.

The assembly moved up the vote in order to pass the draft before Sunday when Egypt's highest judicial power is expected to rule on whether to dissolve the panel.

Over the past few days, about 30 liberal and Christian members pulled out of the panel to protest what they call the hijacking of the process by Islamists loyal to President Morsi.

The Egyptian leader caused a political uproar when he granted himself sweeping new powers that bar the judiciary from challenging his decisions. Mr. Morsi told state television Thursday the decree will end immediately once the people vote on the constitution.

President Morsi announced his decree a day after earning international praise for negotiating a truce between Israel and Hamas leaders of the Palestinians in Gaza.

The United States has declined to immediately criticize Mr. Morsi's actions or the draft constitution.

President Morsi is expected to put the draft constitution to a public referendum as early as mid-December.

At least two people have been killed and hundreds injured in Egypt's nationwide demonstrations.