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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora