(by Hamza Hendawi, Chicago Sun Times) – (AP) CAIRO – Egypt’s two highest appeals courts suspended their work Wednesday to protest presidential decrees that gave the country’s Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi nearly absolute powers, state television reported.
Judges of the Cassation Court decided in an emergency meeting that they will not return to work until Morsi rescinds his decrees, according to state TV. The country’s lower appeals court also decided Wednesday to stop work nationwide.
The move followed a defiant statement by the Supreme Constitutional Court that rejected charges made by Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood that [the court] is working to bring down his government.
The developments are likely to stoke the political turmoil triggered by Morsi when he issued a constitutional declaration last Thursday that placed him above oversight of any kind, including by the courts, and extended similar protection to parliament’s lower chamber and a 100-member panel drafting a new constitution.
The constitutional court, which is not [taking part] in the suspension, is due to rule Sunday on the legality of the two bodies, which are dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists*. A ruling, regardless of which way it goes, would constitute a direct challenge to Morsi, who took office in June as Egypt’s first freely elected president but has enraged pro-democracy activists who claim he is acting too much like the authoritarian leader he replaced.
The court ruled in June to dissolve parliament’s lower chamber, also dominated by Islamists, a decision that Morsi and his Islamist allies described as part of a “conspiracy” to bring down the regime.
A strike by the appeals courts and the rare criticism of the president contained in the Supreme Constitutional Court’s statement come a day after at least 200,000 people gathered at Cairo’s Tahrir square to protest Morsi’s decrees, which also gave him unlimited powers to “protect” the nation.
The size of the protest was [similar to] some of the larger rallies held in the square during the 18-day uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian regime nearly two years ago. Clashes between some protesters and police continued Wednesday.
The [secular] opposition has said it would not enter a dialogue with the president about the country’s latest political crisis before Morsi rescinded his decrees. They plan another massive rally on Friday.
*NOTE: Islamism is an ideology (Islam is a religion). Islamists support Shariah (Islamic) law, and wish to have it implemented in as many countries as possible; preferably throughout the entire world. A few Islamists may advocate such radical change via peaceful means, but most seem to advocate the change using violence.
Copyright © 2012, Sun-Times Media, LLC. (From the Associated Press) Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from The Chicago Sun Times. Visit the website at SunTimes.com.
NOTE TO STUDENTS: Read the “Background” below before answering the questions.
1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)
2. What do the judges from the appeals courts demand President Morsi do before they will return to work?
3. What power does President Morsi’s constitutional decree give to him and his (Muslim Brotherhood dominated) lower house of Parliament and constitution-writing panel?
4. What charges made by President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood did the Supreme Constitutional Court reject?
5. How are Egyptian citizens reacting to President Morsi’s decree?
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s decree:
The Egyptian Judicial System:
EGYPT’S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD:
Read a commentary “Dangerously Underestimating the Muslim Brotherhood” at: