Cairo: Egypt's judiciary today slammed President Mohamed Mursi's move to assume sweeping powers as an "unprecedented attack" on its independence, as tensions flared up in the country where courts went on strike and tear gas was fired to disperse protesters.
The presidential decree issued on Thursday brought pro-democracy protesters back to Cairo's Tahrir Square as unrest spread to all corners of Egypt over Mursi's attempts to assume what many see as absolute and pharaoh-like powers.
Joining in the chorus, Egypt's highest judicial authority today criticised the decree that makes Mursi's decisions immune to judicial oversight.
The new constitutional declaration is "an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings," the Supreme Judicial Council said in a statement.
Courts and prosecution offices in the Delta governorate of Qalioubiya as well as in Egypt's second-largest city, Alexandria, went on strike demanding the cancellation of the constitutional declaration.
The Judges Club of Alexandria announced "the suspension of work in all courts and prosecution administrations in the provinces of Alexandria and Beheira" and said it will "accept nothing less than the cancellation of (Mursi's decree)".
At Tahrir Square, a group of opposition activists spent the night and erected some 30 tents. But when more demonstrators attempted to join them this morning, police fired tear gas canisters, forcing them to retreat.
Nearly two years after a popular unrest spurred former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's fall, people have taken to Egypt's streets in the past days to once again call for a revolution, this time to oust the "new pharaoh" Mursi.
Mursi, has insisted that the new powers were aimed at rooting out the "weevils eating away at the nation of Egypt", referring to Mubarak era officials.
He sought to assure the people that the country had not dithered from the path of democracy. However, his opponents who clashed with his supporters yesterday, were calling for yet another regime change.