By Tom Perry
Egypt’s army-backed government has decided to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood as a registered non-governmental organisation, a state-run newspaper reported on Friday, pressing a crackdown on deposed President Mohamed Mursi’s movement.
The decision applies to the NGO registered by the Brotherhood in March in response to a lawsuit that argued the group had no legal status.
It marks a mostly symbolic legal blow to Mursi’s group as the authorities round up its members in the harshest crackdown in decades.
“The minister’s decision has in fact been issued but it will be announced at the start of next week in a press conference,” Al-Akhbar newspaper quoted Hany Mahana, spokesman for the minister of social solidarity, as saying.
The Brotherhood won parliamentary and presidential elections after veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011 but the army deposed Mursi on July 3 in response to mass protests against his rule.
The security forces have killed hundreds of Mursi’s supporters and arrested many of its leaders on charges of inciting violence. There has so far been no attempt to ban its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party.
Al-Akhbar said Social Solidarity Minister Ahmed el-Boraie’s decision to dissolve the group as an NGO stemmed from accusations that the Brotherhood had used its headquarters to fire and store weapons and explosives.
Though formally outlawed under Mubarak, the Brotherhood was grudgingly tolerated for much of his presidency, taking part in parliamentary elections and operating a charity network that helped to it to become Egypt’s biggest political party.
The Brotherhood was founded in 1928 but formally dissolved by Egypt’s army rulers in 1954. The group’s opponents drew on that to argue the Brotherhood remained an illegal movement even after Mubarak’s downfall.
In response, the Brotherhood decided to shore up its legal standing by formally registering as an NGO.