By Jeffrey Fleishman
2:32 PM EST, November 27, 2012
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi received another rejection from judges Tuesday when they reiterated their condemnation of his decree placing his office beyond judicial oversight on matters dealing with state institutions.
The judges also urged a nationwide strike. The actions followed a five-hour meeting between Morsi and the Supreme Judiciary Council on Monday that failed to broker a compromise.
The current standoff between Morsi and the courts reveals that Egyptians no longer accept an authoritarian leader, whether an Islamist or a secular autocrat like Hosni Mubarak. The deeper misgivings by liberals and non-Muslims are that Morsi is advancing a political Islam that aims to gradually expand sharia law to alter the nation’s character and limit civil and religious freedoms.
The president’s battle with the judiciary epitomizes the Muslim Brotherhood’s wider struggle against entrenched remnants of the old government maneuvering to upend Morsi through chaos and gridlock that jeopardizes foreign investment, security and Egyptians’ faith in the ideals of the 2011 revolution. But thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square, many of whom also don’t trust the courts, blame Morsi for power-grabs and have branded him the new pharaoh.
“The people want to bring down the regime,” protesters shouted in the same chant used to unseat Mubarak.
The restiveness in the streets could easily ignite widespread violence. Young men and boys on Tuesday hurled rocks through tear gas at police around Tahrir Square. The Muslim Brotherhood canceled a large pro-Morsi rally planned in Cairo to avoid clashes with anti-government protesters and soccer fans known as Ultras. But the Brotherhood joined ultraconservative Islamists in a march in the coastal city of Alexandria.