Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—A top Egyptian judicial advisory body has claimed that the ruling Muslim Brotherhood has no legal status in the country.
Egypt’s State Commissioners Authority issued a non-binding report to the country’s Supreme Administrative Court recommending the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood, arguing it has no legal status in Egypt.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Muslim Brotherhood lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud rejected the report and its recommendations, expressing suspicion about its timing.
Abdel-Maqsoud also stressed that the Muslim Brotherhood organization had resolved its legal status in Egypt earlier this year when it registered itself as a NGO, adding that its permit number is 644.
The Brotherhood’s legal status has been a source of controversy since the organization’s founding in 1928, however it was outlawed in 1954. Despite this, the Brotherhood continued to develop and grow, ultimately becoming Egypt’s most organized and widespread political force.
The group’s legal standing became a source of contention in the 1970s under General Guide Umar Al-Tilmisani. He filed a lawsuit calling for the ban against the Muslim Brotherhood organization to be lifted. He claimed that the Revolutionary Command Council resolution issued in 1952 was unjust; adding that the group’s confiscated funds should be returned to it.
This lawsuit was eventually thrown out by the Cairo Administrative Court in 1992; however former General Guide Mohamed Hamed Abu Nasr—along with senior Brotherhood member Tawfiq Al-Shawi—immediately challenged the ruling, referring the case to the Supreme Administrative Court. Both men died before the court could hear the case.
The State Commissioners Authority put together a comprehensive but non-binding report recommending that the Brotherhood’s appeals should be thrown out as the organization does not have proper legal status in Egypt.
However the Brotherhood has since claimed to be officially registered in the country as a NGO. It is not clear why the organization had failed to publicize this, particularly as opponents have continued to accuse it of being an illegal organization.
In any case, Mubarak-era laws governing NGO operations are still in effect in Egypt. These laws bar any organization with this designation from many political activities, including backing a political party via advocacy or funding, in addition to imposing stringent requirements regarding the reporting of financing.
The Muslim Brotherhood has stressed that its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, is organizationally separate from the group.
Egypt’s State Commissioners Authority report contains a number of recommendations for the Supreme Administrative Court. It recommends that this case be thrown out of court, particularly as both Abu Nasr and Al-Shawi have died since filing the legal challenge. Abu Nasr died in 1996, just four years after filing this court case, while Shawi passed away in 2009.
The report also recommended that Supreme Administrative Court confirm the 1992 judgment of the Cairo Administrative Court on the basis that the Muslim Brotherhood has no legal standing in Egypt.
Brotherhood lawyer Abdul-Maqsoud stressed that this non-binding report, and its content, have nothing to do with 4 other cases being heard by the Administrative Court against the organization. The Administrative Court is expected to rule next week on lawsuits demanding the banning of the name “Muslim Brotherhood”, the dissolution of the organization, and the freezing of its bank accounts. These cases are based on the Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement in politics in violation of the NGO law.