Update: Morsi Won't Back Down Ahead of Mass Protests Tuesday
Egypt President Mohamed Morsi told the country's Supreme Judicial Council today that his decree last week, that gave himself sweeping powers over the country, was a directive within his rights as president and did not infringe upon the judiciary. The unwillingness to budge is certain to further anger anti-Morsi protesters and fuel tensions with Morsi supporters and police within protest hit cities.
Morsi's opponents and supporters both called for mass rallies on Tuesday in Cairo; however, a spokesman of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood announced Monday night that it has canceled the pro-Morsi rally to "lessen congestion" and avoid "public tension."
Schools, universities and many workplaces will be closed in anticipation of the marches, which are expected to draw tens of thousands to the streets.
Protests continued to rage throughout Egypt on Monday as President Mohamed Morsi was due to meet with senior judges over Morsi's decree last week, which gave sweeping powers to the executive branch and rendered legal challenges to Morsi's rule powerless -- causing national unrest and polarized protests in its wake.
Morsi stressed the "temporary nature" of the decree Sunday, saying the measures were only valid until a new constitution is adopted and new elections are held, insisting that the measures are necessary in order to hold accountable those responsible for the "corruption during the previous regime and during the transitional period."
However, critics continue to warn that Morsi has given himself unprecedented totalitarian power, and anti-Morsi protesters insist that he has destroyed any progress made in the Egyptian revolution.
Thus far, an Egyptian court has received 12 legal challenges to the decree, Aswat Masriya reports. The plaintiffs argue that the decree lacks constitutionality, disregards "the law that he pledged to respect upon taking office," and attempts to topple the legal state in favor of a dictatorship.
Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous reported this morning: “Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi dropped a bombshell with this seven point constitutional declaration. … The only check on Morsi was the judiciary — and now he has placed himself beyond that as well.”
In regards to Morsi's Monday meetings with senior judges, opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei ruled out the potential for any compromise with "a president who is imposing a dictatorship."
Meanwhile, as of Monday morning, the toll from fighting between police and pro- and anti-Morsi activists across Egypt climbed to 2 dead and over 500 injured. Roughly 250 people were arrested on Sunday. Gaber Salah, known as "Jika" was shot in the head and chest during protests last week. Salah was pronounced dead on Sunday after being kept on life support. Many are saying the police are to blame for the shooting.
The number of people camping out in tents in the Tahrir Square area of Cairo has continued to increase as the clashes continued throughout Monday.
Six more members of the originally 100-member constitution-drafting body resigned in protest to the executive orders over the weekend, leaving roughly 80 out of the 100 members. Courts across the country shut down as judges and prosecutors went on strike in protest of the measures.
Philip Risk of the Egyptian Mosireen video collective said today: “The revolution never stopped in Egypt, it was never about toppling a president, it was about toppling the type of political system in power, whether it’s under Mubarak, a military junta or a religion-pushing president like Mohamed Morsi. The numbers in the streets and the unceasing chants of ‘the people demand the toppling of the regime’ confirm that statement. Just because the international media have their sites set elsewhere doesn’t mean that the current moment of revolt is any less powerful than January 2011."
The Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi supporters, has called for a "million man" demonstration on Tuesday to counteract with a huge demonstration organised by Morsi opponents.