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Egypt

Dissidents continue to fight Egypt's constitution

Egyptian opposition will march in protest of recent decrees and a proposed constitution. Independent newspapers didn't publish Tuesday, protesting press restrictions agreed to by an Islamist-dominated assembly on Friday.

Left-wing parties as well as revolutionary groups announced a series of marches to converge later on Tuesday at the Ittihadiyeh Palace in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis. The opposition groups object to a recent constitutional declaration in which Morsi made his decrees immune to judicial review. They also oppose parts of the draft constitution which Morsi has ordered to be put to a referendum on December 15.

"We place the entire responsibility for protecting the demonstrators on President Morsi and the Ministry of the Interior," Egyptian Social Democratic Party spokeswoman Amany el-Khayat said, adding that, where the protesters were concerned, the demonstration would be "entirely peaceful."

A statement from the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, threatened that opposition leaders, including the Mubarak-era dissidents Mohamed ElBaradei and Hamdeen Sabahi, would be responsible for any violence.

"Just as we took responsibility for our demonstrations and successfully organized them, they must take responsibility for the demonstrations that they call and bear the responsibility for any violence due to bad organization," party spokesman Murad Ali said.

'Stand up to tyranny'

Morsi's decree on Nov. 22 gave the president new sweeping powers and severely limited those of the Egyptian courts, placing his decisions and those of the Islamist-dominated assembly that drafted the constitution beyond judicial oversight. The new charter has raised human rights concerns, including over freedoms of expression and worship for religions other than Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Activists say that the constitution opens the door to implementing a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Egyptian independent and opposition newspapers refused to publish their Tuesday editions to protest a lack of press freedom enshrined in the new draft constitution, set for a popular referendum on December 15. The move is in order to "stand up to tyranny," the independent daily Al-Tahrir wrote on its website.

On The Egyptian Independent's website, the newspaper published simply that it objects to "continued restrictions on media liberties, especially after hundreds of Egyptians gave their lives for freedom."

The daily Al-Masry Al-Youm wrote that the newspapers are "protesting against the articles on the press in the draft constitution ... and reject (President Mohamed Morsi's) November 22 decree."

Government newspapers went to print as usual on Tuesday. Private television channels are to join the protest by refusing to broadcast on Wednesday, newspapers reported.

mkg/msh (AFP, dpa)