Anti-Morsi protesters in Cairo on Friday. Screenshot from a video published on Twitter.
Egypt’s Islamist president Mohammed Morsi has granted himself a slew of new powers, prompting protests throughout Egypt on Friday. Those protesting fear that their first elected president since the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak is turning out to be just another dictator.
Morsi’s decree, announced on television Thursday evening, gives him sweeping powers. It stipulates that the president’s decrees, laws and decisions cannot be challenged in court. The decree also states that no court can dissolve the Constituent Assembly, which is currently drafting Egypt’s next constitution. The rewriting of the constitution has been a controversial topic, with many opposition figures quitting the Assembly, leaving mostly Islamists. In addition, Morsi announced he had fired the country’s top prosecutor. Critics immediately decried these moves, accusing him of trying to usurp the judicial system.
Morsi, in a speech on Friday afternoon, told a crowd of thousands of his supporters in Cairo that his decrees were meant to stop “parasites” from the former regime from blocking progress, and accused some judges of plotting to disband the upper house of parliament. He defended his consolidation of power, insisting that Egypt was on a path to “freedom and democracy.”
His supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood have cast Morsi’s move as a temporary measure necessary to stabilise the country until the adoption of the constitution and a new parliament. Prominent opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei dismissed these claims on Twitter: “Morsi has usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh.”
Thousands protested against Morsi's new powers in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday.

“Many of my friends that never protested before, not even during the revolution, are protesting now”

Kandily is an activist who took part in the Egyptian revolution.
Though I was expecting Morsi to try to consolidate more power, I was surprised that he had the gall to grab so much of it all at once. Reading the decree, it struck me that Mursi now has more power than our former dictator Hosni Mubarak. By decreeing that his decrees are the final word, he in effect has control over the judiciary branch of our government. He can now make decisions and implement them, and no one can challenge him on them.
And then, there’s the constitution. His decree has in effect blocked a court case that was in progress as to the legitimacy of the committee drafting the constitution, which is mostly made up of Islamists. Many Egyptians, including myself, were waiting for the verdict with baited breath. Since the committee is now untouchable, it’s clear that our constitution is going to be written by Islamists, and that future laws written in accordance with this constitution could lead to rigid religious rule.
I don’t know what Morsi and the people who back him were thinking when they decided to do this. This decree opens up the way for more protests. Today [Friday], many of my friends that had never protested before, not even during the revolution, went out on the streets for the first time. It’s not that they want Morsi to go – it’s too early for him too leave; our country can’t deal with another shake-up right now. But he needs to negotiate with the opposition and take input from others. We’ve had enough of dictators. The revolution’s goals were to achieve freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but at this point it looks like neither is in the cards.
This image of Morsi crossed with Mubarak has spread over the Egyptian Internet since the president announced his new powers. 

“Of course, it’s not ideal for one man to have so much power, but it’s necessary right now”

Islam Al Bishlawy is an engineer who supports the Muslim Brotherhood.
I support Morsi’s decision because it was necessary to put the country back on the tracks set by the revolution. Those responsible for all the deaths and corruption are still free, because the judicial system is not doing its job. The courts are so behind in dealing with these cases that it has created tension among Egyptians. The families and friends of the revolution’s victims frequently protest in the streets, demanding justice, and it is their right to do so. However, the police are also within their rights when they disperse these protests, since it’s their job to maintain public order. All this is due to the justice system’s failure to accomplish its task.
Of course, it’s not the ideal solution for one man to have all three powers [executive, legislative and judicial], but it’s necessary right now, and it’s only temporary. As soon as the constitution is written up, it will be subject to a referendum. After that, according to the law, the government has got 60 days to organise parliamentary elections. So this situation should really only last for three months. Plus, during this time, the opposition, as Morsi explained in his speech, is still allowed to carry on.