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Islamists force Egypt's top court to close

03 December 2012, 08:26

Cairo - Egypt's top court on Sunday said it would suspend its sessions indefinitely after thousands of Islamists surrounded its building before it was to hear a case on the legality of an Islamist controlled constituent assembly.

The Supreme Constitutional Court added in a statement that the protesters had prevented its judges from having access to its building in Cairo.

The court's decision is the latest in a deepening crisis between Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and the judiciary, incensed by his decree last month to make all his decisions and laws immune to judicial review.

"The crowd were blocking roads to the court and chanting slogans against its people," said the court. "This is a black day in the history of the Egyptian judiciary."

The same court dissolved in June the lower house of parliament where Islamists wielded a clear majority.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has denied it asked its supporters to gather outside the court.

Earlier in the day, chief of the court Maher al-Buheiry postponed the scheduled hearings on the legality of both the constituent assembly and the upper house of parliament.

The assembly on Friday hastily adopted a draft constitution amid an outcry from liberals and minority Christians who criticized the document as too heavily influenced by the panel's Islamist majority.

As the assembly has now finished its work, it is unclear what effect a ruling from the court could have.

Morsi has set 15 December as a date for a public vote on the new constitution, Egypt's first since a popular uprising forced his predecessor, Hosny Mubarak, to resign almost two years ago.



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