Protests in Egypt continue following Morsi’s power grab
Protests in Egypt have continued for a second day following the surprise “power grab” by the buoyant President Morsi, who claims the new decree will aid Egypt’s transition into democracy.
On Thursday, in a move that saw him labelled “Egypt’s new pharaoh” by critics, Morsi granted himself sweeping powers that placed him beyond the reach of the country’s judicial authority.
Friday saw opposition leaders call for a “million-man march” to demonstrate against the president’s move. Thousands protested across several cities in Egypt, where actions taken included fires and the storming of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice party headquarters in the port city of Alexandria.
However, turnout did not manage to reach anywhere near the masses of protesters who marched as part of Egypt’s revolution last year. The number of protesters dwindled even further on Saturday.
Morsi won Egypt’s first democratic election since the downfall of President Mubarak in August, with a narrow majority of 51%. Despite recent lowering approval rating domestically, Morsi has been bolstered by international praise, especially in the wake of the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians earlier this week that he helped broker.
While some in the opposition have applauded the new decree, seeing it as removing remnants of the Mubarak-era from within the judiciary, many others fear it has put Morsi beyond the reach of the law, which will help stifle opposition and permeate the Muslim brotherhood and its hard-line views even further into secular Egyptian society.
Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei claimed Morsi had “usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh”.
Morsi’s supporters have insisted that the new laws are only temporary as the government attempts to write a new constitution, as progress has been hindered by legal challenges from the opposition.
Despite this, even the most favourable of international commentators has described the president’s move as “an odd way to build a democracy”.