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Egypt: Judges Recommend Dissolution of Muslim Brotherhood

Egyptian judges recommend the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood, say it has no legal status.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/21/2013, 6:15 AM

Protest against Muslim Brotherhood policies
Protest against Muslim Brotherhood policies
Reuters

A panel of Egyptian judges has recommended the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, from which President Mohammed Morsi hails, saying it has no legal status.

According to a report on the website of the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, the State Commissioners Board (SCB) recommended on Wednesday that the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) reject a longstanding appeal by the Muslim Brotherhood to revoke the 1954 decision made by former President Gamal Abdel Nasser's Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), declaring the group illegal and ordering its dismantling.

The recommendation by the SCB, a judicial body responsible for issuing non-binding recommendations on cases to Egyptian courts, pertains to an appeal filed by the former Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Omar El-Telmesani in 1977, challenging the 1954 decision.

Al-Ahram reported that the board settled the issue on the grounds that the decision is immune to judicial challenge, as are all decisions made by the RCC, according to the 1956 constitution.

The board went on to say that appeal requests filed by members of the Brotherhood are considered legally null, since the group never had a legal identity.

Since the January 2011 uprising which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, many political figures have demanded that the Brotherhood legalize its status and register officially, in order for the state to be able to monitor its funding and activities the way it does other groups in Egypt.

The SAC is currently considering a legal case against the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in 1928, demanding its dissolution, based on the argument that the organization has no legal status. The verdict will be delivered on March 26, according to Al-Ahram.

Wednesday's recommendation was non-binding, but may affect the SAC in its final ruling.

The Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed as part of a series of wide-ranging crackdowns by the Gamal Abdel Nasser regime on the group, following an assassination attempt targeting Nasser, for which the RCC held the Brotherhood responsible.

The group established the Freedom and Justice Party shortly after the uprising in 2011, and the party went on to secure a majority in the now-dissolved People's Assembly.

The ruling is likely to be welcomed by Egypt’s opposition, which accused Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists of monopolizing power, and say the revolution failed to reach its goals of social justice.

The row between the ruling Islamists and the opposition has been growing wider since November when Morsi issued a decree expanding his powers.

The decree was repealed after intense street pressure, but only after a controversial Islamist-drafted constitution was rushed through.

Last week a legal body representing Morsi filed an appeal against a court ruling cancelling the country’s controversial parliamentary polls.

On March 6, a lower court ordered the cancellation of the April 22 parliamentary elections because Morsi had ratified a new electoral law without sending it to the top court, as required by the constitution.

Last Friday, hundreds of Egyptians demonstrated in Cairo, calling on the army to assume power in Egypt, which has been plagued by unrest and instability two years after the revolution.

The army assumed power after Mubarak had stepped down, but relinquished it to Morsi after he won the country’s first democratic elections last year.

Morsi's presidency has been plagued by unrest and deadly clashes between protesters and police. Port Said, a city on the Suez Canal, has been in open revolt against the Islamist.