The president’s office has said the decree was needed to protect the democratically chosen constituent assembly that is trying to write a new Egyptian constitution from Mubarak-appointed judges who appeared poised to dissolve it. Mr. Mekki said that he supported that goal but that the president could accomplish it with a much narrower edict — one that did not assert sweeping immunity from judicial review on other matters, the feature of the decree Mr. Morsi issued on Thursday that has prompted the loudest protests…

“In his head, the president thought that this would push us forward, but then it was met with all this inflammation,” Mr. Mekki said of Mr. Morsi’s decree. He faulted the president for failing to consult with his opponents before issuing it, but he also faulted the opponents for their own unwillingness to come to the table: “I blame all of Egypt, because they do not know how to talk to each other.”…

A spokesman for Mr. Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party, though, insisted that the president would never back down from the decree, arguing that the constituent assembly working on the constitution needed protection both from Mubarak-era judges and from obstructionist political opponents who want to drag out Egypt’s transition. The first attempt to form a constitutional assembly was annulled by judges, and the latest version has been plagued by complaints that the Islamists who dominate it were rushing through the work and ignoring minority concerns.