Egypt's top judges begin strike as press plan blackout

Egypt’s top judges on Monday began their indefinite strike to protest “psychological and physical pressures” by Islamist supporters of President Mohamed Mursi, as nearly a dozen newspapers announced they will not bring out their editions on Tuesday in support of the opposition.

As confrontation intensified between mostly secular opposition and Mursi after he assumed absolute power through decrees last month, the Supreme Constitutional Court said it was suspending its work to protest the “psychological and physical pressures” by Islamists who prevented judges from entering the court house on Sunday.

Several newspapers on Monday printed front-page headlines saying “No to Dictatorship”
to protest against a new constitution that was drafted by an Islamists-dominated panel.
A cartoon of a newspaper in human form chained in a cell was pasted on the front of several independent papers including Al-Watan with the line ‘A constitution that cancels rights and shackles freedoms. No to dictatorship.’

The papers also declared that they would not go to print on Tuesday. Three private TV channels also declared they will leave their screens blank tomorrow, joining hands with the opposition against Mursi and escalating the biggest political crisis not seen since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak.

They denounced the moves by Mursi to go ahead with the proclamation of the new constitution without the participation of the liberals and Christian members. The decision not to publish newspapers was taken at a mee­ting called by the Natio­nal Committee for the Defense of freedom of opinion and expression, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. A resolution, unanimously adopted, also called for keeping television screens blank. Gamal Fahmy, Director of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate also attended the meeting.

Last time, Egypt faced a judicial strike and a newspaper blackout was in 1919 when the country united in an uprising against the British colonial rule.

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