Egyptian judges strike to protest Morsi decree

Decision comes as youth, police clash near Tahrir Square, one day after more than 300 hurt in demonstrations across country.

Egypt clashes Judges Strike municipal building tear gas 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)
Egypt clashes Judges Strike municipal building tear gas 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)
CAIRO - The body representing Egypt's judges called on Saturday for an immediate strike in all courts and prosecutors offices in protest against President Mohamed Morsi's decree expanding his powers.
Related: Obama’s dilemma: Egypt is looking more like Pakistan Morsi draws fire with new Egypt decree At a meeting in Cairo, the Judges Club called on Morsi to retract the decree and to reinstate Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, the Hosni Mubarak-era prosecutor general who was sacked as part of the decision unveiled on Thursday.
Meanwhile, youths clashed with police in Cairo on Saturday as protests against Morsi stretched into a second day, confronting Egypt with a crisis that has exposed the split between newly empowered Islamists and their opponents.
A handful of hardcore activists hurling rocks battled riot police in the streets near Tahrir Square, where several thousand protesters massed on Friday to demonstrate against a decree that has rallied opposition ranks against Morsi.
Following a day of violence in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said and Suez, the smell of teargas hung over the square, the heart of the uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power in February 2011.
More than 300 people were injured on Friday. Offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled Morsi to power, were attacked in at least three cities.
Egypt's highest judicial authority said the decree marked an "unprecedented attack" on the independence of the judiciary, the state news agency reported.
Also Saturday, prominent Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei reiterated there could be no dialogue with Egypt's president until he rescinded the "dictatorial" decree which he said gave Morsi the powers of a pharaoh.
"There is no room for dialogue when a dictator imposes the most oppressive, abhorrent measures and then says 'let us split the difference'," ElBaradei said in an interview with Reuters and the Associated Press after talks with other opposition figures.
"I am waiting to see, I hope soon, a very strong statement of condemnation by the US, by Europe and by everybody who really cares about human dignity," he said.
Leftist, liberal and socialist parties have called for an open-ended sit-in with the aim of "toppling" the decree. Calling it "fascist and despotic," Morsi's critics also called for a big protest on Tuesday against a move they say has revealed the autocratic impulses of a man jailed by Mubarak, who outlawed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.
"We are facing a historic moment in which we either complete our revolution or we abandon it to become prey for a group that has put its narrow party interests above the national interest," the liberal Dustour Party said in a statement.
Issued late on Thursday, the decree marks an effort by the Morsi administration to consolidate its influence after it successfully sidelined Mubarak-era generals in August.
The decree reflects the Muslim Brotherhood's suspicion towards sections of a judiciary unreformed from Mubarak's days: it guards from judicial review decisions taken by Morsi until a new parliament is elected in a vote expected early next year.
It also shields the assembly writing Egypt's new constitution from a raft of legal challenges that have threatened the Islamist-dominated assembly with dissolution.
The Morsi administration has defended the decree on the grounds that it aims to speed up a protracted transition from Mubarak's rule to a new system of democratic government.