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

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid