Islamists, protesters clash in Egypt
TOPSHOTS Muslim Brotherhood movement's supporters throw stones towards opponents of the movement during clashes on April 19, 2013 in central Cairo. Two people were hurt after anti-Islamist protesters marched on thousands of Islamists who had rallied outside the Supreme Court in central Cairo demanding judicial reform. AFP PHOTO /MOHAMED EL-SHAHEDMOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images
Photo by AFP/Getty Images
CAIRO — Supporters and opponents of Egypt's Islamist president battled in the streets near Tahrir Square on Friday as an Islamist rally demanding a purge of the judiciary devolved into violence.
The rally centered on a contentious aspect of the country's deep political polarization — the courts. Islamist backers of President Mohamed Morsy say the judiciary is infused with former regime loyalists who are blocking his policies, while opponents fear Islamists want to take over the courts and get rid of secular-minded judges to consolidate the Muslim Brotherhood's power.
But beyond the specific issues, the scenes of youths from both sides waving homemade pistols and beating each other with sticks illustrated how entrenched violence has become in Egypt's political crisis. In recent weeks, several marches and rallies by the country's various camps have devolved into street battles, fueling the bitterness on all sides.
Thousands of Morsi supporters — mostly backers of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist hard-liners — held rallies Friday outside the High Court building in Cairo and in the coastal city of Alexandria, demanding the “cleansing of the judiciary.”
The marches appeared aimed at presenting Islamists' actions on the courts as a popular “demand of the revolution.” Islamist lawmakers who dominate the legislature have announced plans to begin debating a bill regulating the judiciary, aimed at ensuring the independence of courts they contend are dominated by supporters of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak.
But opponents believe the Islamists aim to remove judges and install new ones who support their agenda. In an interview with a Kuwaiti newspaper this month, the former head of the Brotherhood, Mehdi Akef, called the judiciary “sick” and “corrupt” and said a new law could force out 3,500 of Egypt's approximately 13,000 judges and prosecution officials by lowering the retirement age to 60 from 70 — though it remains to be seen if lowering the age will be in the final bill.
“Go for it Morsi and we are behind you. Cleanse the judiciary,” thousands of Islamists chanted outside the High Court building.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.