Egyptian journalists called on Sunday for a general strike to protest guarantees of press freedom in a draft constitution, amid a political crisis sparked by decree by President Mohamed Mursi granting himself sweeping powers.
They called for the strike during an emergency meeting of the Journalists Syndicate but have yet to set a date, attendants told AFP.
An Islamist-dominated panel currently drafting the country’s new charter has come under heavy criticism for seeking to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law and failing to secure key rights.
The legality of the 100-member assembly was being challenged in the courts but Mursi’s decree on Thursday says no court can now dissolve the panel.
Earlier, scuffles broke out at the meeting between supporters and foes of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Supporters of the Islamist group, from which Mursi emerged, argued that not enough members were present to conduct the meeting, citing syndicate bylaws. That sparked a heated debate on the technicalities of the meeting, which ended in a fist fight.
“The people want the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood,” journalists chanted, as fighting continued on stage and speakers struggled to be heard over the chaos.
Mursi’s decree, which allows him to issue decisions and laws unchallenged, has sparked furor among the judiciary and the opposition, who have put their long-standing divisions aside, to confront Thursday’s decree.
Protesters declared a sit-in on Friday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and courts in Egypt’s second city of Alexandria have suspended work in protest at what they called an attack on the independence of the judiciary.