Top Egyptian Judges: Morsi Violating Judicial Authority, Independence

Political opponents call for mass protest in Cairo against the Egyptian President's decision to grant himself sweeping new powers; liberal parties urge followers to gather in Tahrir Square.

Egypt's highest judicial authority said a decree granting President Mohamed Morsi sweeping new powers marked an "unprecedented attack" on the independence of the judiciary, the state news agency reported.

At an emergency meeting called to discuss the decree issued by Morsi on Thursday, the Supreme Judicial Council urged "the president of the republic to distance this decree from everything that violates the judicial authority".

In Alexandria judges decided to go on strike on Saturday in protest at a decree issued by President Mohamed Morsi which shields his decisions from judicial review, the state news agency reported.

The judges' club in Alexandria said work would be suspended in all courts and prosecution offices until the decree was reversed, the agency reported.

Political parties angered by Morsi's decision have called on their supporters to protest against the move on Tuesday in Cairo.

Leftist, liberal, socialist parties and others have said their followers should march to Tahrir Square with the aim of "toppling the fascist, despotic constitutional declaration" issued by Morsi on Thursday, according to a statement from one of the parties.

"We are facing a historic moment in which we either complete our revolution or we abandon it to become prey for a group that has put its narrow party interests above the national interest," said the statement, issued by the liberal Dustour Party on its Facebook page late on Friday.

The marches will start at 5.00 p.m. (1500 GMT) from areas around the capital before converging on Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011.

Morsi's decision to assume sweeping powers caused fury amongst his opponents and prompted violent clashes in central Cairo and other cities on Friday.