Islamist protests force postponement of Egyptian court hearing on new constitution

Monday 03 December 2012 15.43
Supporters of Mohammed Mursi gathered outside the Supreme Constitutional Court
Supporters of Mohammed Mursi gathered outside the Supreme Constitutional Court

Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court has postponed its work indefinitely after a protest by Islamists sympathetic to President Mohammed Mursi outside its headquarters.

"[The judges] announce the suspension of the court sessions until the time when they can continue their message and rulings in cases without any psychological and material pressures," the court said in a statement.

The court had been set to examine the legality of the Islamist-dominated upper house of parliament and the body that drafted the new constitution today.

The cases threaten to further complicate a political crisis ignited by Mr Mursi's 22 November assumption of sweeping new powers.

Several hundred Muslim Brotherhood supporters chanting slogans demanding the "purging of the judiciary" had crowded outside the court building from the early hours of this morning.

Egypt's newly empowered Islamists are deeply suspicious of the Supreme Constitutional Court, which ruled in June in favour of dissolving the Brotherhood-led lower house of parliament.

The constituent assembly, also dominated by Islamists, handed Mr Mursi its final draft of the constitution on yesterday.

The 100-member constitutional assembly, which started work in June, finished the draft on Friday.

Mr Mursi has called for a 15 December referendum on the draft and hopes passing the constitution will help end the crisis.

Assuming the new constitution is approved in the referendum, legislative power will pass from Mr Mursi to the upper house.

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