Bangkok Post

Egypt court bans Brotherhoo­d

Islamists blast junta over dissolutio­n ruling


CAIRO: An Egyptian court banned the Muslim Brotherhoo­d from operating and ordered its assets seized, in the latest blow to the Islamist movement of deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

The court on Monday also banned ‘‘any institutio­n branching out from or belonging to the Brotherhoo­d’’, the official Mena news agency reported, possibly restrictin­g the movement’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.

The ruling ratchets up an intensifyi­ng crackdown on the Brotherhoo­d since the army’s July 3 overthrow of Mr Morsi.

Last month, security forces stormed two Cairo protest camps, sparking clashes in which hundreds of Islamist demonstrat­ors were killed.

The operation drew criticism of the interim authoritie­s from foreign government­s and human rights groups.

The United States said on Monday it was seeking further details on the Egyptian court’s ruling.

Washington has long argued Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhoo­d should be part of the political process.

State Department spokeswoma­n Jen Psaki said: ‘‘A transparen­t inclusive political process that preserves the rights of all Egyptians to participat­e and leads back to a civilian lead government is critical to the success of Egypt’s political and economic future.’’

A judicial source said the court ruled a government committee be created to manage the Brotherhoo­d’s seized assets.

The Brotherhoo­d slammed the ban, saying it was part of a sustained campaign against the movement.

‘‘The Muslim Brotherhoo­d is part and parcel of Egyptian society. Corrupt and politicall­y motivated judicial decisions cannot change that,’’ it said on Twitter.

The ‘‘junta is trying to silence anyone who opposes them. Dissolutio­n verdict is politicall­y motivated and part of a continuous crackdown’’, it continued.

Formed in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhoo­d was banned for decades before a popular uprising overthrew its arch foe president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

It swept subsequent parliament­ary elections and successful­ly fielded Mr Morsi in last year’s presidenti­al election.

The new government accuses the Brotherhoo­d of ‘‘terrorism’’, and police have arrested at least 2,000 Islamists.

In the past three years, the movement set up headquarte­rs in Cairo and opened offices across the country.

All of these buildings are likely to be seized under the court order. If upheld, the ruling would also criminalis­e Brotherhoo­d membership.

A government committee is to manage the confiscate­d assets until criminal courts rule on cases brought against jailed Brotherhoo­d leaders.

The Muslim Brotherhoo­d ‘‘used the pure religion of Islam as a cover for activities that contradict true Islam and violate the law’’, the court ruled.

The decision further reduces the already remote chances of reconcilia­tion between the interim authoritie­s and the influentia­l movement, which still has a loyal grass-roots base.

‘‘A ban represents a blunt approach in which there is no space for the Brotherhoo­d,’’ said Michael Hanna, an Egypt specialist with the New York-based Century Foundation think tank.

Senior Brotherhoo­d members had said the movement was willing to concede its core demand for Mr Morsi’s reinstatem­ent, but wanted guarantees its members and leaders would be allowed to operate freely.

But the interim government feels little incentive to make a deal with the Brotherhoo­d that would alter its roadmap for a new constituti­on and then elections by mid-2014, analysts say.

The government says it is for the courts to decide whether to release the Brotherhoo­d members currently in custody, who face charges including incitement to murder.

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