Egyptian court dissolves Muslim Brotherhood's political body
Ruling on FJP, coupled with Brotherhood being deemed a 'terror group', may force movement underground
AFP and Reuters in Cairo
An Egyptian court today ordered the dissolution of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political wing of the already banned Muslim Brotherhood movement, dealing a crippling blow in the campaign to crush Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement.
The decision comes after the authorities designated the Brotherhood a “terrorist organisation” in December following the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Mursi by the military.
That ruling did not mention its political wing, leaving open the possibility it could be allowed to run in parliamentary elections, due later this year.
The FJP had come out on top in every election in Egypt between its creation in the wake of the country’s Arab Spring uprising in 2011 and Morsi’s removal in July last year.
In its ruling on Saturday, the Supreme Administrative Court ordered “the dissolution of the Freedom and Justice Party because it broke the law regarding political parties”.
The court’s ruling called for the FJP’s assets seized by the state. Its decision is final and cannot be appealed, a judicial source said.
The latest ruling excludes the Brotherhood from formal participation in electoral politics, potentially forcing the movement underground, particularly as it has lost the sympathy of large swathes of the public.
The Muslim Brotherhood, once Egypt’s oldest, best organised and most successful political movement, has seen hundreds of its members killed and thousands detained since then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the military overthrew elected president and Brotherhood member Mohammed Mursi 13 months ago, following weeks of protests.
Since then, a crackdown by the military-installed authorities on his supporters has killed 1,400 people in street clashes, and some 16,000 Islamists and protesters have been jailed.
At least 200 people have also been sentenced to death in speedy mass trials, including Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, although none of the sentences has been carried out so far.
Mursi himself is on trial on various charges and Sisi replaced him after winning a presidential election in May.
Sisi vowed during his campaign that the Brotherhood would cease to exist under his rule.
The Brotherhood maintains it is a peaceful movement but attacks by militants have risen since the army overthrew Mursi.
Most of the violence has taken place in the Sinai Peninsula near the border with Israel and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. The army has responded with air and ground attacks.
The FJP was established in June 2011, in the aftermath of the uprising that removed Hosni Mubarak from power after 30 years and inspired hopes for a more pluralistic political system in Egypt.