Mass Demonstrations Continue in Egypt

December 4, 2012

Thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo today for a mass demonstration to protest a draft constitution that has been adopted by the allies of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. The demonstration culminated in a mass march on the presidential palace.

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As you may be aware, Egypt’s fragile democracy was threatened last month when Morsi, a member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, moved to dramatically expand his power by nullifying Egypt’s separation of powers and granting himself absolute authority.

Separation of powers is a model for state governance. It was first used by the Roman Republic around 509 BCE. Under this model, the state is divided into branches, each with separate and independent powers as well as areas of responsibility. This ensures that no branch has more power than the other branches. The most common branch division is an executive, a legislature, and a judiciary.

Under Morsi, Egypt’s executive branch now has immunity from the other branches, thus giving the president dictator-like powers.

The Muslim Brotherhood have used Morsi’s election as an opportunity for a power grab. Morsi, who narrowly won the presidency in June, has been increasingly at odds with Egypt’s judiciary. His decrees have placed him above oversight of any kind, including the courts.

Egypt’s Supreme Court has gone on strike as Islamist protesters (supporting Morsi) have besieged their building in order to keep the justices from gathering and nullifying the draft constitution that was accepted this past Friday. Morsi’s hand picked constitutional assembly created the draft.

The draft constitution has been criticized for not protecting the rights of women, Coptic Christians, freedom of expression, or journalism. Only four women, all of them Islamists, were involved with the creation of the draft constitution while Christians were left out of the process all together.

Egypt has been divided into two camps: Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other Salafi Islamists versus the courts, liberal parties, feminists, youth groups, and public sector workers.

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