Thousands Rally in Support of Egypt’s Morsi, Draft Constitution

Posted December 1st, 2012 at 10:35 am (UTC-5)
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Tens of thousands of Islamists demonstrated across Egypt Saturday in support of President Mohamed Morsi and a controversial draft constitution set for a national referendum.

Demonstrators gathered outside Cairo University and elsewhere, waving flags, raising banners and demanding the implementation of what they called “God's law.”

The Muslim Brotherhood called for rallies across Egypt in support of Mr. Morsi, who is expected Saturday to set a date, possibly as early as mid-December, for a public referendum on the constitution. An Islamist-led assembly approved the draft constitution on Friday.

Also Saturday, thousands of protesters demonstrated 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 Mr. 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 Islamist-led constitutional panel, boycotted by several Christian and liberal members, rushed through approval of the draft constitution Friday. The panel retained the principles of Islamic law as the main source of legislation.

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

In recent days, about 30 liberal and Christian members left the panel to protest what they called 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 said Thursday the decree will end immediately once the people vote on the constitution.

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