The outrage over the Egyptian President's latest power grab, the one that led to protests and chants calling him "pharaoh," isn't going away. This seems to be the start of something big.
To catch you up, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree on Thursday that gave him temporary immunity from the Egyptian courts until a new constitution is written and a parliament is voted in. He's also free to write any new laws without appeal or questioning. He is, essentially, free to do what he wants. Morsi made himself above the law. This did not go over well.
Thousands of people started protesting in Tahrir Square, and smaller protests broke out in Alexandria, Suez, and other cities across Egypt. In some cities, the headquarters for Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party were targeted by protestors and set on fire. Egyptians are concerned Morsi piggy-backed the revolution to power and is using it to adopt Islamic-centric laws when Egypt is still a very divided country religiously.
Surprisingly, the Supreme Judicial Council, Egypt's highest judicial authority, aren't pleased with Morsi's decree. The council told Egyptian state media the decree is an, "unprecedented assault on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings." The council is primarily made up of judges appointed by Honsi Mubarak, but that doesn't mean their fears are unfounded. "However, the judges say...what is the guarantee that it is for a temprorary amount of time. They say you can not have a president who is accountable to no one," Al-Jazeera's Egypt correspondant explained.
And the consequences of Morsi aren't limited to old regime judges complaining about him usurping their powers. A member of his 17-person presidential advisory team resigned because of it. "I have taken the decision to resign because I was not consulted on the latest decision," Samir Morcos told Ahram Online.
Even the U.S. State Department is concerned with Morsi's move:
The decisions and declarations announced on November 22 raise concerns for many Egyptians and for the international community. One of the aspirations of the revolution was to ensure that power would not be overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution.
Protests continued well into Friday night and picked up Saturday morning. Some of the best on-the-ground reporting is coming from two, perhaps unlikely, sources: Gawker's A.J. Daulerio and ANIMAL New York's Bucky Turco. They were in staying in a hotel close to Tahrir Square when the protests started. They have since relocated. But their Twitter feeds have some of the best reports from the Square so far. This is from their dispatch posted to Gawker late Friday night:
Police officials told the paper they were not teargassing protestors, even though their reporters witnessed it firsthand. From our front-row seat we can confidently say there is plenty of tear gas. There are also fires and fireworks and rocks being thrown and banging against steel and indecipherable chanting and baseball bats being shaved into spears and 8-year-olds chainsmoking. This could could get ugly and more lawless than is standard for this part of the country but there is something weirdly inspiring about the way all these young people protest with such ferocity and recklessness.
Also, there are twinkies in Egypt. Who knew?
There seems to be another large protest brewing in Tahrir Square on Saturday morning. This is the latest picture Turco snapped of the crowd getting ready to march on the Square:
Another protest in front of the Egyptian courthouse was already dispersed Saturday morning by tear gas from security officers. A group of opposition parties were showing their support for a group of judges meeting inside to figure out how to oppose Morsi's decree when they were attacked by "unknown assailants" shooting fireworks into the crowd. Shortly after that was when the police showed up. We'll keep this space updated as things happen today.