Egypt in Crisis: Foes Protest Morsi, Brotherhood

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Opponents of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi are planning a huge march and general strike to protest the leader's power grab and the drafting of a new constitution. 

Eleven Egyptian newspapers are also planning to suspend publication. Like many Egyptians, now they fear the growing power of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Nation in Crisis

Egypt today is divided and in crisis. To protest Morsi's decrees some of Egypt's most prominent newspapers ran front page headlines that said "no to dictatorship."

"We took the decision of suspending the newspaper from printing tomorrow as an objection to the articles in the new Egyptian constitution that limit freedom of speech," Mohamed Samir, executive editor in chief of al-Masry al-Youm, said.

Last week, Morsi rushed through a draft constitution written mostly by Islamists.

Many liberals and Christians boycotted the committee writing the constitution since the document failed to protect women's rights, minority rights, and gives Muslim clerics unprecedented power to implement Sharia law.

Adding insult to injury, Morsi on Nov. 22 gave himself sweeping new powers and immunity from judicial review. That prompted Egypt's judges to go on strike.

"For the judiciary to suspend its daily work is a very strong and clear message of how, shall we say, abhorrent, the practices of President Morsi and the Muslim Brothers who are now in power in Egypt," Saad El Din Ibrahim, an activist and political analyst, said.

Attorney Khaled Soleiman said that Egypt has in essence been "raped by the Muslim Brotherhood."

"We have never seen members of the constitutional court be banned from entering the court to proceed with sessions and view cases," he said. "That presents a huge problem. In other words, the republic of Egypt has been raped by the Muslim Brotherhood."

Modern Day Pharoah?

Morsi's actions have led many Egyptians to wonder if they traded one dictator for another.

"The general feeling was that President Morsi and the Muslim Brothers -- because he is a Muslim Brother -- they have created a new dictatorship in Egypt," one Egyptian said. "Within six months from the day Morsi was sworn in, he took all the possible powers of the country into his hands."

Former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Zvi Mazel said Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have united those opposing the rise of radical Islam.

"They understand that it's impossible that they made a revolution," he said. "They did something, they sacrificed themselves, and a new dictatorship is taking them, digesting them."

Mazel warned this division in Egypt could lead to violence. He's also baffled at the relative silence of the United States.

"The U.S. is very important, but so far they are siding with the Muslim Brothers," he said. "The last two or three communiques they published from the White House and the Department of State, they are giving support to the Muslim Brothers. This is something very hard to understand."

The United States and the region could be dealing with this problem for a long time. Mazel's advice?

"We should pray that it will end up in a democracy," he said.

In the meantime, the future of Egypt hangs in the balance.

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