An Egyptian court has banned all activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, and ordered authorities to seize all of the group’s assets, state television has reported.
The court also banned “any institution branching out from or belonging to the Brotherhood,” the official MENA news agency reported on Monday, possibly restricting the movement’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.
The ruling comes amid a crackdown on the Brotherhood and more than a month after hundreds of Islamist protesters died in a police operation to disperse their Cairo sit-ins, sparking a wave of nationwide violence.
The Cairo court “ruled to ban all activities by the Muslim Brotherhood organisation, the group emanating from it and its non-governmental organisation”, MENA reported. According to the verdict, any institution that co-operates with the Muslim Brotherhood, or is funded by it, would be banned as well.
That includes any organisations with Brotherhood members in senior leadership positions.
The ruling opens the door for a wider crackdown on the vast network of the Brotherhood, which includes social organisations that have been key for building the group’s grassroots support and helping its election victories.
The judge at the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters also ordered the “confiscation of all the group’s money, assets, and buildings” and said that an independent committee should be formed by the Cabinet to manage the money until final court orders are issued.
The Muslim Brotherhood has 10 days to appeal the decision, after which the court’s orders go into effect.
The Brotherhood was outlawed for most of its 85 years in existence. But after the 2011 ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, it was allowed to work openly, formed a political party and rose to power in a string of post-Mubarak elections.
In March, it registered as a recognised non-governmental organisation.
The new military-installed government now accuses the Brotherhood of “terrorism”, and police have arrested at least 2,000 of its members, including nearly all of its top leaders.
“This is totalitarian decision,” leading group member Ibrahim Moneir said in an interview with Al Jazeera. “[The Brotherhood] will remain with God’s help, not by the orders by the judiciary of el-Sisi,” he added, referring to military chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who led the overthrow of Morsi on July 3.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is part and parcel of Egyptian society. Corrupt and politically motivated judicial decisions cannot change that,” the Brotherhood said via its Twitter feed, in response to the verdict.
The court did not immediately make public the grounds for its ruling. The verdict came in a suit raised by lawyers from the leftist party Tagammu party, accusing the Brotherhood of being a “terrorist” and “exploiting religion in political slogans”.
Several other courts are looking into similar suits.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry, meanwhile, told Al Jazeera that it would not be seeking to use the ruling as grounds for cracking down further on anti-coup protests.
“The Interior Ministry is saying that there is no law to stop these protests from continuing, that the protests are under the umbrella of the Anti-Coup Alliance,” Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Cairo, whom we are not naming for security reasons, said.
“So the Ministry of Interior is saying that it will allow these protests to continue as long as they are peaceful,” she reported.