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Egyptian artists to protest Morsi declaration

Artists and cultural figures to join countrywide protests against President Morsi's Constitutional Declaration which they say threatens the dream of a modern democratic state

Farah Montasser , Tuesday 27 Nov 2012
artists meeting
Farouk El Fishawy, Galal El Sharkawy, Ashraf Abdel Ghaffour at the Representative Professions Club (Photo by ONTV Channel footage)
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Representatives of Egyptian cultural associations will be marching from the Cairo Opera House to Tahrir Square on Tuesday as part of mass protests against President Morsi's recent Constitutional Declaration.

The decision was made at a joint meeting of the cinema, actors, representatives and musicians syndicates on Monday.

On Thursday, the president, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, issued a declaration making all his decisions immune from legal challenge for a six-month period. It also protects the Islamist-led Constituent Assembly (tasked with drafting a new constitution) and the Shura Council (the upper house of parliament) from dissolution by court order.

"Today we face a social divide and the struggle will continue so long as Morsi's declaration persists," said filmmaker Gala El-Sharkawi. "We cannot accept this divide within society let alone the divide within the judiciary."

He questioned what Egyptians would do if judges went on strike and all of the country's legal affairs were put on hold.

Actor Farouk El-Fishawy said, "Down with Muslim Brotherhood dominance and down with Morsi," to cheers from the audience.

Director and filmmaker Khaled Youssef said, "President Morsi's promise to reopen cases of the revolution's martyrs is untrue," and backed up his claim with the words of the new attorney-general, Talaat Ibrahim, who said cases would only be reopened if new evidence arises.

"Morsi is threatening our freedom," he added.

He condemned the president's actions and called for him to withdraw his declaration immediately.

Actors syndicate leader Ashraf Abdel-Ghaffour said he agreed with his colleagues: "The Constitutional Declaration violates the law."

The meeting produced a joint statement: "The Constitutional Declaration is disappointing to the Egyptian people and threatens the dream of a modern democratic state. It declares an unprecedented period of dictatorial rule, which was opposed by the January 25 Revolution.

"Artists of Egypt join national forces in calling for the declaration to be rescinded. We also call for the restructuring of the Constituent Assembly so it fairly represents the Egyptian people without favouring a single party or ideology."

There were artists at the meeting who supported the president's declaration, but they were heavily outnumbered by opponents.

Artists are to gather at 3pm on Tuesday in front of the Cairo Opera House. They will then march to Tahrir Square and take part in a sit-in until the declaration is dropped.

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