Egypt is bracing itself for another round of demonstrations — this time led by supporters of embattled President Mohamed Morsy — whose recent controversial decree, dubbed by his critics as power grab, brought about a landslide of protests over the weekend.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organisation that laddered Mr. Morsy towards the Presidency, called upon its cadres to take to the streets, soon after daybreak on Sunday. Brotherhood activists have been told to highlight the perceived merits of the presidential order, which has immunised the Presidency from judicial intervention. The Islamist movement also announced that it would be holding a “one-million-man march” on Tuesday -- a show of strength that could escalate domestic tensions to a dangerous new level.
The Brotherhood is arguing that Mr. Morsy had been forced to centralise power in order to protect the revolution that took root last year with the fall of former strongman Hosni Mubarak. Otherwise, there was a real danger that without strong executive direction, the process of writing a new constitution would be stalled. Consequently, fresh parliamentary elections that are to follow the formulation of a national charter would not take place. Far from becoming a usurper of power, and a new age Pharaoh as branded by Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate, the Brotherhood has commended Mr. Morsy’s order as a means to fast-track national elections, based on a new constitution.
In response to the charge that Mr. Morsy is pursuing a path towards dictatorship, the Brotherhood stamped the protesters, who had thronged Tahrir square on Friday, torched Brotherhood offices in some cities, and stoned the police, as supporters of counterrevolution. A Brotherhood statement dubbed protesters as miscreants trying to “topple the regime and take over power" -- echoing exactly the same charge that his detractors had levelled against Mr. Morsy.
Despite the pressure building up on the President to withdraw his controversial order, Mr. Morsy seemed disinclined to throw in the towel. In a country, where deep societal divisions were also tearing up state institutions, there was sufficient support for the President to mount an effective counterattack. While the media on Saturday focused on the judges’ revolt against the presidential decree, a significant section within the ranks of the judiciary had also stepped out to back the President.
The "Judges for Egypt" –a reform caucus came out in full throated support of the presidential decree. Walid Sharaby, the official spokesperson of the group told Al-Jazeera’s Mubasher Misr news channel that hundreds of its members attended the Judges for Egypt meeting.
Mr. Sharaby accused members of the High Constitutional Court (HCC), the country’s highest court of being Mr. Mubarak’s loyalists—a charge lacking exactitude because the judiciary had a fairly good record of standing up against the former President. "We are honoured that our meeting [to support the constitutional declaration] was not attended by members of the High Constitutional Court (HCC). We know of their orientation; they only seek to restore the old Mubarak regime," observed Mr. Sharaby.
On Saturday, 22 human rights organisations lent their support for the judiciary. A joint open letter by the groups slammed the President for delivering “a lethal blow to the Egyptian judiciary" by passing the much maligned decree. As the country’s multiple splits among organised groups splintered into the open, Hisham Qandil, the prime minister made a brave attempt to douse the flames by appealing directly to the people. In a tweet that was avidly picked up by the media, Mr. Qandil said: “The choice at the end is to the people; to build or to destroy; to set a stone after stone to build or to throw stone after stone to spill blood."