Egypt’s highest court suspended their work indefinitely on Sunday, after pro-Morsi Islamists protested outside the court building and reportedly kept from entering.
The judges said they would not resume their sessions until they could operate without “material or psychological pressure,” and offered no date when they would reconvene,Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
“The judges of the Supreme Constitutional Court have no choice but to announce to the great people of Egypt that they are unable to carry out their sacred duty in such a charged environment, filled with hatred, desire for vengeance and fabricated, imaginary animosity,” they said in a statement.
The Supreme Constitutional Court was blocked from entering the courthouse for a session Saturday, when it was set to investigate cases against the legality of the Islamist-controlled upper house of parliament and the assembly that drafted the new constitution, NBC News reported.
“We have been forcefully prevented from entering, and there were threats of murder and of burning the building,” Justice Tahani el-Gebali told Bloomberg Businessweek by phone. “We have received security information not to go because our lives would be in danger.”
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The Court’s decision is the latest move following Morsi’s power grab November 22, which has escalated that confrontation between President Morsi and his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand, and the primarily secular opposition and judiciary on the other, according to BBC.
Protests by hundreds of thousands of pro-Morsi supporters escalated on Saturday, both in Tahrir Square and in front of the court.
The suspension of the court’s activities, however, did not seem to have any immediate impact on Morsi’s push to hold referendum on the country’s new constitution December 15, according to Reuters.
Human rights activists have also taken up issue with the wording of the drafted constitution; the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, said that a number of the constitutions’ measures are “incompatible with international human rights law,” and has asked Morsi to reconsider the draft, CNN reported.
“Moving a flawed and contradictory draft to a vote is not the right way to guarantee fundamental rights or to promote respect for the rule of law,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
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