Egypt's Brotherhood under legal threat as bomb hits central Cairo

CAIRO Mon Sep 2, 2013 6:25pm EDT

1 of 7. Plainclothes police officers conduct a check on a motorcycle in front of Boulaq Al-Dakrour police station, after an explosion in Giza, south of Cairo, September 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Related Topics

CAIRO (Reuters) - A judicial panel set up by Egypt's military-backed government supported a legal challenge to the status of the Muslim Brotherhood on Monday, 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 organization 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 on Tuesday 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 Mursi, 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 organization, 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 license 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 November 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 Mursi'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.

'MILLION-PERSON MARCH'

Most of the group's top leaders have been arrested and face charges of inciting violence or murder. Mursi was himself referred to trial on Sunday on those charges.

Authorities arrested on Monday one of the few remaining senior Brotherhood members who had thus far managed to evade arrest, the state news agency reported.

MENA quoted unnamed security officials as saying police had arrested Saad Husseini, who had served as governor of the Nile Delta province of Kafr el-Sheikh under Mursi, at an apartment in a Cairo suburb.

The government is shaping a new constitution to remove the Islamist additions that the Brotherhood introduced.

On Sunday it tasked a 50-member constituent assembly, which includes only two Islamists, with reviewing a draft constitution that may allow members of Mubarak's government, banned from office after the 2011 revolution, to return.

The Brotherhood accuses the "putschist regime" of staging a coup against democracy and fabricating allegations of violence and terrorism to justify a drive to erase it from public life.

The National Coalition for Legitimacy, which includes the Brotherhood, called for a "million-person march" in all Egypt's squares on Tuesday under the slogan "The Coup is Terrorism". At least six people were killed during similar protests last week.

Although the Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful resistance, fears have grown that attacks by Islamist radicals, such as those that have already hit lawless Northern Sinai, could develop into a wider insurgency.

Memories are still vivid of an Islamist insurgency in the 1990s, when bombs and shootings destabilized Egypt and ravaged tourism.

Three people on a motorcycle hurled a homemade hand grenade at a police station in a working class area of central Cairo on Monday, wounding two workers, the state news agency said.

On Sunday, an army source said three people had been arrested for firing machineguns on Saturday at a container ship passing through the Suez Canal, the global shipping artery that runs through Egyptian territory. Canal Authority sources said a rocket-propelled grenade had also been used in the attack.

As well as being vital to global trade, the canal is one of Egypt's most important sources of income.

(Additional reporting by Asma Alsharif and Shaimaa Fayed; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (6)
chekovmerlin wrote:
What does it tell you about the Muslim Brotherhood(MB) when al Zawahiri, second in command to the late Osama Bin Laden in Al Qaeda was a leader in Egypt’s MB? What does it tell you that the MB was banned and then tried to form an Islamic State in Egypt? What does it tell you that the Army in Egypt wants to ban it and Hafez al Assad butchered 25,000 members in the 1980′s in Syria? What does it tell you about the MB that should make you aware of their threat to the West? There is much to understand the situation in the Middle East that has been oversimplified by the present Administration in D.C.

Sep 02, 2013 12:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Burns0011 wrote:
The mindset of the Muslim Brotherhood, as it is with ALL religiously-motivated political groups, does not allow for compromise.

It does not allow for debate, dissent, or the expression of different opinions; You either support the Brotherhood mindlessly, or you are evil and must be converted or killed.

This can be seen in their actions. At first they weren’t going to run for offices. Then they were just going to run for Parliment. Then they said they weren’t going to run for the presidency. Then they put forth a candidate. Then they said they’d be inclusive, and promptly shut out all the other parties from the constitutional revisions.

They said they weren’t going to change the constitution substantially; instead they weakened protections and inserted clauses that allowed them to arrest anyone they wanted on the thin excuse of ‘insult’ being unconstitutional.

The writing was on the wall for those who cared to read it; The Muslim Brotherhood was aiming to make Egypt over into a theocratic state and the centerpiece of a greater Sunni Islamic Caliphate. This is NOT a democratic movement.

And the mindless, brainless calls to restore a ‘democratically elected’ dictator are being rightfully ignored by the Egyptian Military.

Sep 02, 2013 3:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Burns0011 wrote:
Reuters: Take tighter control over your correspondents. Hire more editors, ones who know what they’re doing. The headline does NOT match the contents of the article; a home-made grenade is NOT a “bomb”.

Sep 02, 2013 3:56pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.