Millennium Post

Egypt court erupts over constitution

Brawls broke out on Tuesday in an Egyptian courtroom as judges prepared to issue rulings that will either strengthen the country’s new President Mohamed Morsi, or undermine his power in his struggle with the military.

With his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood hailing a ‘decisive’ day in the country’s democratic transition, hundreds of Morsi supporters came to protest at the courthouse, accusing the generals of using the judiciary to undermine his authority. With opinion split on how the Cairo administrative court would rule, tension was high as lawyers, protesters and members of the public pushed and elbowed one other.

‘Down, down with military rule,’ shouted supporters of the Brotherhood, drawing an angry response from their opponents.

‘Down, down with the rule of the [Brotherhood’s] Supreme Guide,’ shouted a woman as the courtroom descended into mayhem.

‘I have never seen a courtroom like this anywhere in the world. This is no way for us to work. Do you call this justice?’ said one lawyer, Khaled Fouad.

Judge Abdel Salam El-Naggar arrived and told the crowd, ‘Your presence here will not intimidate the court’. He suspended the session to allow time for the atmosphere to cool.

The power struggle unleashed by the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak last year has shifted from the streets to the ballot box and now the courts as Islamists vie for influence with their perennial adversaries in an army-led establishment.

At Tuesday’s hearings judges will decide if an assembly drafting a new constitution should be scrapped. They will also hear appeals against decrees by the military and one from Morsi that recalled an Islamist-dominated parliament that the generals had dissolved.
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