x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Egyptian court upholds Muslim Brotherhood ban and orders its assets confiscated

Decision moves forward the complicated process of the government taking control of the group's social network and its finances.

CAIRO // A court in Egypt yesterday upheld an earlier ruling that banned the Muslim Brotherhood and ordered its assets confiscated, the state news agency reported.

The decision moves forward the complicated process of the government taking control of the Islamist group’s social network and its finances.

The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters rejected the Brotherhood’s appeal to suspend the September 23 ruling that ordered the group’s assets confiscated and its activities banned.

The September verdict was viewed as a legal pretext for the interim authorities to move against assets owned or administered by Brotherhood members, including schools, hospitals, charities, and businesses.

It is part of a wider government crackdown against the group following the removal from power of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, who was backed by the Brotherhood.

Since then senior leaders have been arrested, and many of them sent to trial on a number of charges, including Mr Morsi himself. His trial began Monday on charges of incitement to murder.

Egypt’s military-backed authorities formed a committee on October 2 to review the Brotherhood assets but have not moved against its finances.

Outlawed for most of 85-year existence – with successive regimes alternating between repression and tolerance – the Brotherhood built its networks largely underground. That made it difficult for authorities to track, since many institutions were registered under individuals’ names.

Brotherhood lawyer Osama El Helw said the group will file another appeal against the ruling, but this appeal unlike the first will not suspend implementation of the ban unless it is accepted by a court. It is also unlikely to reverse the initial ruling, legal experts said.

Technically, yesterday’s verdict allows the government to move in on the group’s assets. The committee that includes judicial, security and intelligence officials has started to do an inventory of the group’s finances.

The initial court ruling said the Brotherhood used Islam “as a cover” while it “violated citizen’s rights”. It denounced the group in broad political terms, saying that during Morsi’s year in office, “Egyptians found only repression and arrogance”.

The ruling banned the group as well as “any institution branching out of it or ... receiving financial support from it”, which could also force the disbanding of its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party.

There is another legal case before Egypt’s administrative court seeking to dissolve the group’s offshoot, a non-governmental organisation registered after the group rose to power in 2012. The court is holding its next session on November 12.

* Associated Press