A panel of judges on Wednesday recommended the dissolution of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group from which President Mohammed Morsi hails, arguing it has no legal status.
The recommendation is not binding, but is significant given charges by the opposition that the Brotherhood’s leadership is the real power behind Morsi. The president and Brotherhood have repeatedly denied the charge.
The recommendation was made to a high administrative court that is expected to rule later this month on the Brotherhood’s legitimacy. The judges’ panel, which was providing an advisory opinion to the court, said that the organization does not have a proper legal status.
The Brotherhood’s legal status has for years been caught up in multiple court cases. Formed in 1928, it was dissolved in 1954 by military rulers. Despite the ban, it grew into Egypt’s most organized and widespread political force, with authorities alternating between tolerance of its activities and fierce crackdowns on it.
The ban on it was lifted by the ruling military after the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. It then formed a political party that went on to dominate parliamentary elections. Morsi, a Brotherhood veteran, was the party leader until he was elected president in June last year and he formally left the party.
In response to the judges’ recommendation, the Brotherhood’s legal adviser said Wednesday that the group registered with authorities earlier this year and planned to do so again when parliament adopts new legislation regulating the work of NGOs. All non-governmental organizations are required to register with the government.
“We never publicized that we registered the group because that does not add or take away anything,” Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud, the legal adviser, told Al-Jazeera.
Ahmed Aref, a Brotherhood spokesman, pointed out that the recommendation does not amount to a court ruling.
“We are waiting for the new legislation to be adopted and we will immediately legalize the group,” said Aref. “There is nothing that should stop us from doing that,” he told The Associated Press.
He pointed to court cases the Brotherhood won in the decades before its banning in 1954 that confirmed its status as a religious organization.