, CAIRO, Sep 23 – An Egyptian court on Monday banned the Muslim Brotherhood from operating and ordered its assets seized, in the latest blow to the Islamist movement of deposed president Mohamed Morsi.
The court also banned “any institution branching out from or belonging to the Brotherhood,” the official MENA news agency reported, possibly restricting the movement’s political arm the Freedom and Justice Party.
The ruling ratchets up an intensifying crackdown on the Brotherhood since the army’s July 3 overthrow of Morsi.
Last month, security forces stormed two Cairo protest camps, sparking clashes in which hundreds of Islamist demonstrators were killed.
The operation drew criticism of the military-installed interim authorities from foreign governments and human rights groups.
A judicial source told AFP the court ruled that a government committee should be created to manage the Brotherhood’s seized assets.
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.
The ruling may be appealed and overturned by a higher court.
Formed in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood was banned for decades before a popular uprising overthrew its arch foe president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
It swept subsequent parliamentary elections and successfully fielded Morsi in last year’s presidential election.
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.
In the past three years, the movement set up headquarters in a multi storey building in Cairo and opened offices across the country for its Freedom and Justice Party.
All of these buildings are likely to be seized under the court order. If upheld, the ruling would also criminalise Brotherhood membership.
A government committee is to manage the confiscated assets until criminal courts deliver their verdicts in cases brought against jailed Brotherhood leaders.