News / Middle East

Egypt's Morsi Faces Mounting Revolt Over Judges

FILE - Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Jan. 21, 2013. FILE - Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Jan. 21, 2013.
x
FILE - Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Jan. 21, 2013.
FILE - Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Jan. 21, 2013.
Reuters
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi faced a mounting revolt against Islamist attempts to force out thousands of judges when his own legal adviser quit on Tuesday, three days after the justice minister tendered his resignation.

Mohamed Fouad Gadalla resigned in protest at what he called an "attempt to assassinate the judiciary and undermine its independence," according to a letter to Morsi published by the state-owned Al Ahram daily's website. The president's office said it was aware of the report and had no immediate comment.

The new blow came despite the ruling Muslim Brotherhood's efforts to calm a political furor by sending a judicial reform bill that would force the retirement of more than 3,000 judges to a parliamentary committee for further consideration.

After emergency talks with the Supreme Judicial Council and the prosecutor general on Monday, Morsi's office issued a late-night statement saying the president considered protecting the independence of the judiciary was his constitutional duty.

The secular and liberal opposition had condemned a draft law that would have imposed mandatory retirement on judges at 60 instead of 70, forcing out many senior judges who have angered the Islamists by annulling election laws and acquitting officials who served under the ousted president, Hosni Mubarak.

The political battle over the judiciary has become another obstacle to efforts by the United States, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to promote political reconciliation to help Egypt fight a deep economic crisis.

The speaker of the upper house of parliament told lawmakers the bill proposed by the moderate Islamist Wasat Party had been referred to the constitutional affairs committee, which would study it and compile a report.

That means it will no longer be rushed through parliament on Wednesday as initially planned, allowing more time for a possible compromise.

Brotherhood Demonstration

Only days after the Brotherhood staged a mass demonstration in Cairo to demand a "purification" of the judiciary, its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, distanced itself from the draft. Sobhi Saleh, a senior FJP lawmaker, told Al Jazeera's Egyptian news channel the bill was just a proposal.

The opposition National Salvation Front said on Monday the law would eliminate more than 3,000 judges at a stroke, calling it a prelude to the "Brotherhoodization" of the judiciary, and called for demonstrations outside parliament.

Judges, who denounced the bill as unconstitutional, are to hold another meeting on Wednesday at which attendees said they would demand that any legislation affecting the judiciary be sent to them for review before it is ratified.

Justice Minister Ahmed Mekky tendered his resignation on Saturday after the Brotherhood demonstration against the judiciary, seen by many Islamists as infested with Mubarak-era appointees hostile to Egypt's 2011 democratic revolution.

Local media quoted Mekky, who stood up for judges' freedom under Mubarak's rule, as saying he would only stay in his job if he received official guarantees regarding judicial independence.

The clash highlights rival sources of legitimacy that have co-existed uneasily in Egypt since Arab Spring street protests toppled Mubarak. Most of the laws and judges date back to his authoritarian rule and some have been used to frustrate the plans of new bodies elected since the uprising.

Mubarak and his former interior minister were sentenced to life imprisonment last year for complicity in the killing of hundreds of demonstrators during the revolution, but an appeals court threw out the verdict in January and ordered a retrial, which has already stalled once and is due to start on May 11.

Morsi has said he plans a cabinet reshuffle, expected next week, that Western officials hope may bring a more inclusive, politically-balanced government and enable the NSF to drop plans to boycott parliamentary elections due later this year.

However, the attempt to purge the judiciary has polarized Egyptian politics again, deepening opposition suspicions that the Brotherhood wants to monopolize rather than share power.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid