CAIRO – An Egyptian court on Monday banned the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that was the chief supporter of deposed president Mohammed Morsi, and ordered all of the organization’s assets confiscated.
The interim government has been steadily escalating a crackdown on the group since the July 3 coup that toppled Morsi, but this represents by far the most drastic step against it to date.
Most of the Brotherhood’s leadership is imprisoned, including Morsi, and those who are not in jail have gone into hiding. The ousted leader and his senior lieutenants face an array of charges including serious accusations related to murder.
The ruling, which came after the court was asked to review the movement’s status as a nongovernmental organization, bans all activity by the Brotherhood, which was previously one of the oldest and most influential Islamist movements in the Middle East. The text of the ruling was made public by Egypt’s official news agency.
Six weeks after the military-led coup that forced Morsi from power, Egyptian security forces launched an overpowering assault on protest camps set up by the ex-leader’s supporters. Hundreds of demonstrators were killed in that crackdown last month, and authorities have since kept a tight lid on gatherings by the group’s members.
In the intervening weeks, the Egyptian police and army have raided what they describe as Islamist militant strongholds in the Sinai Peninsula, the Nile Valley and, most recently, on the outskirts of Cairo, near the pyramids of Giza. The wave of offensives has resulted in hundreds of arrests.
Authorities have portrayed those captured as criminals and terrorists, and a senior Egyptian police commander killed in one of the raids last week has been hailed as a national hero.