CAIRO – Egypt’s highest administrative court dissolved Saturday the political party of the banned Muslim Brotherhood and ordered its assets liquidated, in the latest move against the 86-year old Islamist group.
The decision against the Freedom and Justice Party comes ahead of parliamentary elections expected this year and prevents the group from trying to rejoin politics a year after leading member, President Mohammed Morsi, was overthrown by the military.
The party was founded in 2011 by the Brotherhood, Egypt’s historic Islamist movement created in 1928, after President Hosni Mubarak was deposed in a popular uprising and it went on to dominate subsequent legislative elections.
The Middle East News Agency said the decision by the Supreme Administrative Court is final and can’t be appealed.
In a statement, the Freedom and Justice Party said the dissolution won’t succeed in uprooting the group’s ideals.
“We affirm that while the military coup, the counterrevolution judiciary may be able to dissolve the party, they will not be able to dissolve its principals or besiege its civilized peaceful thought,” he said.
The court, headed by Judge Fareed Tanaghu, said the party’s affiliation with a supra-national group – the Muslim Brotherhood and its international branch – undermined “national unity, social peace, the democratic system and threatened Egypt’s national security.”
The court also said that by calling the military overthrow of Morsi a “coup” rather than a popular revolution, the party was breaking with national unity and worked to destabilize the country.
The court said the group’s assets are to be liquidated and handed over to the state, calling on the Cabinet to form a committee to oversee the process.
In 2011, after Mubarak’s ouster, the same court also dissolved the then ruling party, the National Democratic Party, which protesters had long accused of monopolizing power. Since then, many of its members have formed new political parties and earlier rulings barring its members from running have been overturned.
Many members of the Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party are in jail or have fled Egypt to evade prosecution, part of the government crackdown against the Brotherhood that also included drying up its finances and freezing its public outreach programs.
The government declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group late last year, accusing it of orchestrating a wave of violence to destabilize the country after the military overthrew Morsi in July. Militant attacks against the police and military have surged since his ouster.
The Brotherhood denies it has adopted violence as a tactic, saying the government is scapegoating the group, Egypt’s strongest and oldest political organization that once had large network of social programs that mostly targeted the poor.
After coming to power, however, the group faced public anger over what critics said were its attempt to monopolize power, enshrine Islamic laws in the country’s legislation and allying with more radical Islamist groups.
Since Morsi’s ouster, the group has kept up its protests against the government, though they have been decreasing in size amid the security crackdown. Morsi himself is in jail facing a slew of charges, including conspiring with foreign groups to destabilize Egypt.
Mubarak is also facing trials over the death of hundreds of protesters and other corruption charges.