Embattled Morsi calls out his backers

Both sides of Egypt's political divide take to the streets as judges join protest against President's controversial decree
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The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has called for a mass demonstration in Cairo this week to show support for the embattled President, Mohamed Morsi, who is facing widespread protests over his controversial decree granting him extensive new powers.

In a statement published on its website, the Brotherhood also called for demonstrations in public squares across the country after early evening prayers today.

The latest blow to Mr Morsi came yesterday when the Supreme Judicial Council, Egypt's highest body of judges, called the move by the President to grant himself near-absolute power an "unprecedented assault" on the judiciary.

Through their statement, the judges joined a growing list of leaders and activists from Egypt's political factions, including some Islamists, who have denounced the decree Mr Morsi says is necessary to "protect the revolution". The council's move reflects the anger within the judiciary.

Mr Morsi has accused pro-Mubarak elements in the judiciary, many of whom were appointed by the former president, of blocking political progress. In the past year, courts have dissolved the lower house of parliament as well as the first panel drafting the constitution, both led by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The council's stand against the President sets the ground for an uneasy alliance between former regime officials and activist groups that helped to topple Mubarak's regime and have in the past derided those officials as "felool", or remnants.

The Presidents' opponents see the judiciary as the only civilian branch of government with a degree of independence, as Mr Morsi holds both executive power and legislative authority.

The judges released their statement following an emergency meeting yesterday. They described Mr Morsi's decree as an "unprecedented assault on the judiciary and its rulings" and called on the President to "distance himself from the declaration and all things that touch judicial authority, its specifications or interference in its members or its rulings."

The primary court and the judges' club in Alexandria announced that they and public prosecutors have suspended all work until the declaration is withdrawn, according to the state news agency, MENA.

Parties opposed to the decree have called for a protest on Tuesday in Cairo, though in a different square from the one where the Brotherhood called on its supporters to gather.