Egypt judges slam Mursi over ‘unprecedented attack’

Updated 25 November 2012

Egypt judges slam Mursi over ‘unprecedented attack’

CAIRO: Egyptian judges accused President Muhammad Mursi on Saturday of an “unprecedented attack” on the judiciary by assuming sweeping powers putting him beyond judicial oversight, with some going on protest strike.
Earlier, anti-riot police fired tear gas to disperse anti-Mursi protesters camped out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as Western governments voiced growing concern over the political crisis.
The Supreme Judicial Council said after an emergency meeting that Mursi’s constitutional declaration was “an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings.”
The council, which handles administrative affairs and judicial appointments, called on the president to remove from the declaration “anything that touches the judiciary.”
The Judges Club of Alexandria announced “the suspension of work in all courts and prosecution administrations in the provinces of Alexandria and Beheira.”
And they “will accept nothing less than the cancelation of (Mursi’s decree),” which violates the principle of separation of powers, club chief Mohammed Ezzat Al-Agwa said.
The president already held both and executive and legislative powers, and his Thursday decree puts him beyond judicial oversight until a new constitution has been ratified in a referendum.
In Cairo, a statement by some 20 “independent judges” said that while some of the decisions taken by the president were a response to popular demands, they were issued “at the expense of freedom and democracy.”
Mursi has ordered the reopening of investigations into the deaths of some 850 protesters during the 2011 uprising, and hundreds more since.
New prosecutor general Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah said new “revolutionary courts” would be set up and could see former president Hosni Mubarak, his sons and his top security chiefs retried “should there be new evidence.”
Mubarak and his interior minister were sentenced to life over the killing of protesters in last year’s popular uprising against him, but six security chiefs were acquitted in the same case sparking nationwide outrage.
In an address to supporters outside the presidential palace on Friday, Mursi had insisted Egypt remained on the path to “freedom and democracy,” despite his move to undercut the judiciary.
“Political stability, social stability and economic stability are what I want and that is what I am working for,” he said.
It also means that the Islamist-dominated panel drawing up the new charter can no longer be touched and gives it a two-month extension until February to complete its work.
A hard core of opposition activists spent the night in Tahrir Square — epicenter of the anti-Mubarak uprising — where they erected some 30 tents, an AFP correspondent reported.
But when others attempted to join them in the morning, police responded with volleys of tear gas and forced them to retreat into surrounding streets.
The mainly secular liberal activists have voiced determination to keep up the momentum of protests against Mursi’s decree and have called a new mass protest in Tahrir for Tuesday.
“Egypt is at the start of a new revolution because it was never our intention to replace one dictator with another,” activist Mohammed Al-Gamal told AFP, showing his broken spectacles and hand in a plaster cast than he said were the result of police action.

International concern
Washington, which voiced fulsome praise on Wednesday for Mursi’s role in brokering a truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers to end eight days of deadly violence, led international criticism of the Mursi’s move.
“The decisions and declarations announced on November 22 raise concerns for many Egyptians and for the international community,” said US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
“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.”
A spokesman for the Freedom and Justice Party, headed by Mursi before his election, said the president’s decree was necessary to cut short the turbulent transition.
“We need stability,” said Murad Ali. “That’s not going to happen if we go back again to allowing the judges, who have personal reasons, to dissolve the constituent assembly in order to prolong the transitional phase.”

In Mosul, young students help bring city back to life

Raghad Hammadi, who is a member of a group of students campaigning to help rebuild the Central Library of Mosul University, speaks with Reuters, in Mosul, Iraq on May 14, 2018. (REUTERS/Khalid Al-Mousily)
Updated 2 min 46 sec ago

In Mosul, young students help bring city back to life

  • A group of students who launched a campaign to help rebuild the Central Library of Mosul University found buried under layers of ash some 30,000 books almost intact.
  • Among the books salvaged were some handwritten by Mosul scholars. They included editions written in Moslawi, the distinct dialect of the region once known as a center for scholarly Islam and the pride of many for its ancient mosques, churches and Old City

MOSUL, Iraq: A group of Iraqi university students have found a cause in the ruins of Mosul.

They are salvaging what is left of its rich heritage, clearing rubble and distributing aid in a city crying out for help after the war against Daesh.

The project began when Raghad Hammoudi and a group of students decided to launch a campaign to help rebuild the Central Library of Mosul University, burned and bombed in the war. Its vast contents had been all but lost.

But they found buried under layers of ash some 30,000 books almost intact. Over 40 hot days, with the war still raging on the other side, the students moved the books one by one using holes made by rockets to carry them to safety.

“An entire city with a glorious past and ancient history lost its heritage and culture: The tomb of the Prophet Jonah, the minaret of Al-Hadba which is older than Iraq itself. It is great that we were able to save a part of this heritage,” said Hammoudi, 25, a nursing student. 

Both the leaning minaret of Al-Hadba , part of the 12th century Grand Al-Nuri Mosque, where in 2014 Daesh’s Abu Bakr al Baghdadi declared a caliphate, and the ancient tomb of what is believed to be the Prophet Jonah were destroyed in the military campaign to retake the city.

Hammoudi says among the books salvaged were some handwritten by Mosul scholars. They included editions written in Moslawi, the distinct dialect of the region once known as a center for scholarly Islam and the pride of many for its ancient mosques, churches and Old City architecture.


Revolution within

Elsewhere, volunteers cleared rubble and garbage, opened roads, drilled water wells and distributed aid.

“The situation in Mosul is so much better now and this is because of the revolution that happened within Mosul, within its young people,” she said.

After living under Daesh’s strict rule and then the war to retake the city, young women feel as though they have been liberated.

The team that set out to rescue the books was mixed, a rarity in Mosul’s society, where mingling between sexes outside the family or university was limited even before Daesh.

“An unbelievable barrier has been broken, it might be a trivial thing for the rest of the world but for Mosul it is huge,” she said.

Months after Iraq announced full control of the city, life is back in many parts. But much of the Old City, where the last and the bloodiest battles were waged, is still in complete ruin.

Diyaa Al-Taher, a resident who is helping rehabilitate homes, says most people, despite being impoverished, have returned to neighborhoods where the rubble has been cleared. However, there are entire areas that are completely deserted. Corpses fester under debris.

“Poverty can do more harm than Daesh. If the city remains like this and the poor can’t find anything to eat, they will do anything,” said Taher, 30.

Taher says his target is to rehabilitate 1,000 homes and has so far finished rehabilitating 75, relying solely on donations from locals.

Taher is regularly stopped by locals asking for help. He points to a collapsed home where an entire family was killed.

“Their belongings were taken to be sold for charity,” he said, skipping over the stream of sewage that split the road.


Miracle escape

Marwa Al-Juburi,25, a divorcee, was one of the first to volunteer as soon as she and her family escaped the fighting.

“It was a miracle that we even made it. From then on I refused to accept to stay at home anymore. I refused to be silenced and I haven’t since,” she said.

She says she had to overcome stigma both as a woman and a divorcee to carry out the work.

She runs activities for children and helps coordinate access to medical care and equipment for families. Her team organized the opening of a park previously used as a military training ground for the fighters who ruled the city for three years.

Al Juburi, who is still haunted by images of the night of their escape, says even if Mosul is rebuilt, people need help to get over the mental toll.

“In the end, the city will be rebuilt, even if it takes 1,000 years. But if the mind is destroyed, then the city will be lost with no hope of resurrection.”