December 11, 2013
Egypt's Brotherhood under legal threat as bomb hits central Cairo
A judicial panel set up by Egypt's military-backed government has supported a legal challenge to the status of the Muslim Brotherhood, compounding a drive to crush the movement behind the elected president deposed by the army in July.
While short of a formal ban on the Brotherhood, which worked underground for decades under Egypt's previous military-backed rulers, the panel's advice to a court to remove its non-governmental organisation status threatens the million-member movement's future in politics.
An attack on a police station in central Cairo and plans for new mass protests by the Brotherhood tomorrow showed the stability the interim government says it took over to impose after two-and-a-half years of turmoil is still elusive.
At least 900 people, most of them Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, have been killed since the army takeover on July 3. The government has accused the Brotherhood of inciting violence and terrorism, and arrested its leaders.
Egypt's oldest political organisation, the Brotherhood won a series of elections after protesters forced out longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak in 2011, culminating in last year's presidential vote. It formally registered itself in March as an NGO to secure its legal status.
The judicial panel backed Brotherhood opponents who argued that the NGO registration was illegal because the Brotherhood-led government had effectively issued a licence to itself.
The panel's recommendation to the court due to rule on the case is not binding, judicial sources said, adding that the court's next session would be on Nov. 12.
It adds to a whole array of steps taken against the Brotherhood since the army stepped in after mass protests against economic mismanagement and attempts to entrench the movement's power during Morsi's rule.
The Brotherhood formally operates in the political arena as the Freedom and Justice Party. There has so far been no attempt to outlaw the party, but its NGO status was seen as a bulwark against legal attack.