The decision by the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters will likely paralyze the already under-fire group, making any Brotherhood activity, from organizing protests and demonstrations to fundraising campaigns, illegal.
On Monday, Judge Mohammed El-Sayed issued the following ruling: “The court bans the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood organisation and its non-governmental organisation and all the activities that it participates in and any organisation derived from it.”
The court explained its ruling on the grounds that the group used Islam “as a cover” as well as “violated citizen’s rights,” adding that “Egyptians found only repression and arrogance and the conditions of the citizens worsened.”
The court added that “Al-Azhar is a beacon of knowledge moderation and will go on with its moderate discourse to ward off any extremist ideology that encourages violence.”
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, legal sources close to the Muslim Brotherhood informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the group’s lawyers intend to lodge an appeal against the ruling which they described as “politicized and invalid,” adding “this comes within the framework of the process of isolation practiced against [the Brotherhood] since the military coup.”
Security was tight in the Abdeen area when the court was in session, with police forces erecting metal barriers in front of the court’s main gate.
Lawyer Amir Salem told Asharq Al-Awsat: “This ruling has been long awaited for because the Brotherhood is an underground group that engages in activities away from the legitimate actions of a state,” adding, “The ruling is binding and authorities must implement it immediately by banning any activities by the group or its members and freezing their assets, even if they appeal.”
“This may mean the confiscation of the headquarters and assets of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm,” he added.
For his part, former adviser to Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, Fouad Gadallah, told Asharq Al-Awsat that it is possible for the Brotherhood to “appeal against the ruling,” indicating that the “problem is that there are similar cases being considered by the Administrative Court that might create a legal crisis if it issued a ruling…recognizing the legality of the Muslim Brotherhood’s association.”
This is not the first time the 85-year-old group has been banned by the Egyptian authorities. In 1954, Egypt’s military rulers dissolved the Islamist group after it was implicated in a failed assassination attempt against then Prime Minister Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak the Muslim Brotherhood started to operate openly, registered the FJP as its political wing. The party won a 47 percent majority of seats at the 2011-2012 parliamentary elections.