Morsi trial delayed due to 'bad weather'

Announcement comes as supporters of the ousted Egyptian president clash with police in Cairo

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shout slogans against the military in front of Al Rayyan mosque, on the outskirts of Cairo, on Dec. 27.
REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

The judge in the trial of Egypt's former president, Mohamed Morsi, who is being tried on charges of inciting murder, has ordered hearings adjourned until Feb. 1, citing inclement weather. The decision was announced as anti-coup protesters gathered in Cairo to rally in support of the ousted leader.

Security officials said Wednesday that the helicopter that was supposed to fly Morsi from a prison near the Mediterranean city of Alexandria to the court in Cairo could not take off due to heavy fog.

It is not the first time that Morsi's trial has been delayed. After commencing in November of last year, it was quickly adjourned and postponed.

As news of the latest delay broke, anti-coup protesters who heeded a call by movement leaders to gather in support of Morsi in Cairo’s Nasr City neighborhood clashed with police, who fired tear gas as protesters burned tires and smashed car windows. Police said they made 14 arrests.

An anti-coup alliance had called for the supporters "to gather at the venue of the trial, under the banner 'The People defend Their President,'" to defend "constitutional and electoral legitimacy in Egypt."

Morsi was removed from office by the military on July 3 following massive demonstrations against him. Morsi's trial is part of a wide crackdown on his party, the Muslim Brotherhood, that has eviscerated its leadership and much of its crucial mid-level organizers. Hundreds of Brotherhood members face prosecution.

In December, Deputy Prime Minister Hossam Eisa declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization following a massive bombing in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, north of Cairo, which left 16 people dead. A Sinai-based armed group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, however, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Also on Tuesday, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood TV cleric based in Qatar issued a fatwa, or religious edict, saying the party is forbidden from voting in Egypt's constitutional referendum, scheduled for Jan. 14, because it gives legitimacy to Cairo's new leadership.

Egyptian cleric Youssef el-Qaradawi issued the fatwa a day before Egyptians abroad are set to vote on the draft charter. Of Egypt's roughly 681,000 registered voters abroad, about 42,000 are based in Qatar.

His edict was issued amid growing tensions between Egypt and Qatar. Qatar was once a staunch supporter of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group, aiding his government with billions of dollars in grants and loans during his year in office.

The previous Egyptian constitution approved under Morsi was suspended after his removal.

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Qaradawi, who often speaks out against Egypt's new rulers, said Morsi's ouster was a military coup, not a revolution as his detractors have called it. He said in his fatwa that the coup was responsible for the killing and arrest of thousands of people.

He said that participating in the upcoming referendum constitutes a continuation of injustice and oppression.

The fatwa and the call for demonstrations came as assailants at a police checkpoint in Cairo threw a grenade and raked a police car with gunfire in a drive-by, wounding one person, security sources said.

Bombings and shootings targeting security forces have become commonplace since the army deposed Morsi.

While the attacks have mostly hit the army and police in the lawless Sinai Peninsula, they have spread to the more heavily populated Nile Delta and Valley.

Tuesday's attack occurred on an usually busy intersection running through the heart of Cairo. Security sources initially said it happened near the upscale district of Zamalek, but later announced that it took place in the nearby Mohandeseen district instead.

It was at least the fourth attack in Cairo or areas north of the capital since Dec. 24, the day of the suicide bombing in Mansoura.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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