High Court protest demands removal of Egypt's prosecutor-general

Karim Hafez , Friday 29 Mar 2013

Hundreds gather at the High Court in Cairo to demand the immediate removal of disputed prosecutor-general Talaat Abdullah

High Court protesters
A protester holds up a Quran and a crucifix (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Hundreds of protestors gathered at the High Court in Cairo on Friday to protest the ‘Brotherhoodisation’ of the judiciary and the summons of five opposition activists earlier this week.

Protestors chained the gates of the High Court in a symbolic move and held signs demanding the “arrest and summons of the prosecutor-general.”

In the late afternoon, the protesters marched to nearby Tahrir Square. There were minor scuffles with local vendors but no reported injuries, according to a ministry of health official.

Egypt’s prosecutor-general, Talaat Abdullah, issued arrest warrants earlier this week for five prominent activists, including Alaa Abd El-Fattah, Ahmed Doma and Ahmed Eid, over their alleged role in clashes that occurred in front of the Brotherhood headquarters that left almost 200 injured.

The National Salvation Front (NSF), Egypt’s leading opposition umbrella group, had called for peaceful protests on Friday to show solidarity with the political activists.

Protestors chanted against President Mohamed Morsi, the prosecutor-general and the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie, and some protesters went as far as calling upon the Egyptian army “to intervene.”

“We demand the immediate removal of the prosecutor-general and the respecting of the court verdict which overturned the dismissal of former prosecutor-general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud [dismissed by Morsi in November 2012]. We demand an impartial prosecution,” Mohamed Abd El-Ghafar, member of the Kefaya movement, told Ahram Online.

Small fights broke out during the protest because a group of protesters objected to chants that demanded the Egyptian army “assume responsibilities.”

“The only alternative to Morsi and his gang is another civilian president. We reject that any form of political responsibility be given to the Egyptian army, and people calling upon the army to intervene clearly lack political vision,” said Hussein Helmy, a member of the Youth for Justice and Freedom movement.

Pro-army chants like “the army and people are one hand” were heard during the protest.

“The army is our only protector. It is the only institution in Egypt right now that would be able to oppose President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood,” asserted Walaa Awni, an unaffiliated protestor at the High Court.

In November 2012, a few months after Egypt's People's Assembly, the lower house of parliament, was disbanded by a court ruling that judged elections to the body unconstitutional, Morsi issued a controversial constitutional declaration widening his powers and dismissing the country's prosecutor-general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, replacing him with Talaat Abdullah.

Opposition groups criticised the move, arguing that under the Egyptian legal system, the prosecutor-general can only be dismissed by a judicial decree, not by the president. They argue that a new prosecutor-general needs to be appointed by judicial selection not by the president.

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