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Egypt's Top Court Suspended Indefinitely Following Protests

Referendum on constitution announced for Dec. 15

- Common Dreams staff

Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court suspended its work indefinitely on Sunday after a large group of President Mohamed Morsi supporters protested outside of the courtroom denying access to the judges. The judges had planned to review the legality of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood controlled parliamentary assembly who quickly drew up plans for the country's new constitution on Friday, excluding other parties in the process.

A demonstrator chants slogans as supporters of Morsi surrounded the Supreme Constitutional Court on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Ahmad Hammad) The court said it would not convene until its judges could operate without "psychological and material pressure," referring to the protesters who they say kept the judges from entering the building. Several hundred Morsi supporters had camped outside the court through the night in anticipation of the court session, which would have scrutinized the legality of the country's current upper house in parliament and the assembly that drafted the new constitution.

Supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood claim that the court's judges are loyalists of former president Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in the country's recent revolution.

On Saturday, Morsi announced a countrywide referendum to pass the newly drafted constitution for December 15, following over a week of massive anti-Morsi protests against his recent decree which granted him sweeping powers over the checks and balances within the government. Opponents say Morsi has granted himself dictatorial powers reminiscent, or possibly even more extreme, than those of Mubarak's rule.

As Morsi announced the referendum, roughly 50,000 anti-Morsi protesters rallied in Tahrir square.

The political polarity of the country was exhibited on Saturday, when at least 200,000 pro-Morsi demonstrators rallied in Cairo in support of the president and his newly drafted constitution. Pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators have clashed throughout the week following Morsi's decree.

Outside the supreme court Sunday Muslim Brotherhood supporters showed support for the newly drafted constitution and Morsi's referendum date: "Yes to the constitution", declared a banner held by protesters, while others chanted demanding the "purging of the judiciary".

"Let everyone - those who agree and those who disagree - go to the referendum to have their say," Morsi stated.

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