Egypt heads for legal crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood

Supporters of the Brotherhood are visible throughout Egypt. Picture: Reuters
Supporters of the Brotherhood are visible throughout Egypt. Picture: Reuters
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EGYPT’S military-backed government has decided it will annul the Muslim Brotherhood’s legal registration within days, it emerged yesterday.

The move will crack down on the party behind deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

While short of a formal ban, the move underlined the government’s determination to crush the Brotherhood. The authorities have accused the group that won five successive elections since 2011 of terrorism and inciting violence.

However, so far they have failed to snuff out nationwide demonstrations demanding the reinstatement of Mr Morsi, ousted by the army on 3 July after mass protests, or stem a rise in militancy which culminated on Thursday in an attempt to kill the interior minister in Cairo.

The Brotherhood, sworn to peaceful protest, condemned the attack but urged its supporters to fill the streets of Egypt’s towns and cities again yesterday, for the third time in eight days, to reject what it calls an army coup against democracy.

Authorities are pursuing the toughest crackdown in decades on the Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest political grouping.
Since July, more than 900 of Mr Morsi’s supporters have been killed and most of the movement’s leaders, including Mr Morsi, have been arrested on charges of murder or inciting violence against anti-Brotherhood protesters.

The symbolic move to cancel its legal status applies to the non-governmental organisation registered by the Brotherhood in March as a defence against legal challenges.

The privately-owned Al-Shorouk newspaper said the decision would be taken within days, quoting Hany Mahana, spokesman for social solidarity minister Ahmed el-Boraie.

The same official was quoted by the state-run Al-Akhbar newspaper as saying the decision had already been taken: “The minister’s decision has in fact been issued but it will be announced at the start of next week in a press conference.”

The move to dissolve the organisation stems from accusations the Brotherhood used its headquarters to fire and store weapons and explosives, Al-Akhbar reported, adding that the Brotherhood had failed to respond to the accusations.

The Brotherhood was founded in 1928 and formally dissolved by Egypt’s then military rulers in 1954. It says it has around a million members.

There has so far been no attempt to ban the Freedom & Justice Party, the political wing that the Brotherhood set up in 2011, after the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak.

Despite the arrest of most of the Brotherhood’s leaders, its long-established grassroots network has still managed to bring thousands onto the streets, galvanised by the killing of hundreds of its supporters when security forces cleared protest camps in Cairo on 14 August.

One of the authors of that operation, interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim, survived an assassination attempt on Thursday.