Egypt court dissolves Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing

Ruling likely to push group underground as it can no longer participate in electoral politics

Muslim Brotherhood senior member Mohamed El-Beltagy (L) gestures the group’s four-fingered Rabaa hand symbol next to Islamist cleric Safwat Hegazis as they are held in  the defendant’s cage, at a courtroom in Cairo. An Egyptian court has today moved to dissolve the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Photograph: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters.

Muslim Brotherhood senior member Mohamed El-Beltagy (L) gestures the group’s four-fingered Rabaa hand symbol next to Islamist cleric Safwat Hegazis as they are held in the defendant’s cage, at a courtroom in Cairo. An Egyptian court has today moved to dissolve the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Photograph: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters.

Sat, Aug 9, 2014, 15:40

An Egyptian court has dissolved the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, dealing a crippling blow in the campaign to crush Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement.

A court banned the Muslim Brotherhood itself in September, but that ruling did not mention its political wing, leaving open the possibility it could be allowed to run in parliamentary elections, due late this year.

Today’s supreme administrative court 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 court’s ruling called for the party to be dissolved and its assets seized by the state. Its decision is final and cannot be appealed, a judicial source said.

The party’s lawyer called the ruling political and said it was unconstitutional to deprive the defence of the right to appeal.

“The legal reasons given do not justify this ruling but this is a political decision to get rid, not just of the Freedom and Justice Party, but of all the parties that were established after the revolution of January 25th, 2011,” lawyer Mahmoud Abou al-Aynayn said. “I expect other parties to be dissolved too.”

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 overthrew elected president and Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi 13 months ago, following weeks of protest.

Mr Morsi, who ruled for a year, and other Brotherhood officials were rounded up in the wake of his ousting and hundreds have been sentenced to death in mass court rulings that have drawn criticism from Western governments and human rights groups.

Mr Sisi, who went on to win a presidential election in May, vowed during his campaign the Brotherhood would cease to exist under his rule.

The Freedom and Justice Party was established in June 2011, in the aftermath of the uprising that removed Hosni Mubarak from power after 30 years and inspired hopes for more pluralistic politics in Egypt.

It went on to win parliamentary and presidential elections, but many Egyptians became disillusioned with Mr Morsi after he gave himself sweeping powers and mismanaged the economy, taking to the streets in protest and prompting the army move against him.

Reuters