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President Morsi stands firm despite Egypt protests

Morsi's grab for more power has prompted days of protest by judges and youth, but the president appears confident that he has the numbers on his side.

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President Mohamed Morsi, (c.), waves to supporters outside the presidential palace in Cairo on Friday. Egypt's official news agency says that the country's highest body of judges has called the president's recent decrees an 'unprecedented assault on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings.' In a statement carried on MEAN Saturday, the Supreme Judicial Council says they regret the declarations Mr. Morsi issued Thursday.

Egyptian Presidency/AP

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Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi attempted to calm a furor raised by his decree expanding his powers as clashes between police and a small group of protesters continued in Cairo today. 

The president's administration issued a statement emphasizing the temporary nature of his nearly unchecked authority, and said his constitutional decree granting it was not meant to concentrate his powers. 

The statement came as some judges were on strike to protest his move, which sidelines the judiciary and removes nearly all checks to Mr. Morsi's power, making his decisions and laws immune to challenge until a new constitution is written. A nationwide judges' strike would mount a strong challenge to Morsi, but it was unclear how widespread the strike was as it appeared that many courts were still working. 

The protests, both on the street and in the courtroom, do not appear large enough to dent the president's momentum, says Mustapha Kamel Al Sayyid, a political science professor at the American University in Cairo.

"I think that the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is planning a big demonstration ... on Tuesday suggests that they are not inclined to accept a compromise," he says. "I think they are planning to send a message that they have more support in the country than the secularists, and they will not change their position." 

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