An Egyptian appeals court on Wednesday upheld a sweeping ban on the Muslim Brotherhood, in a sign of the interim government’s determination to keep heavy pressure on the Islamist movement.
The ban, ordered in September, outlaws all Brotherhood-linked groups and activities, and paves the way for the seizure of the movement’s assets.
The Brotherhood denounced the ruling, which came just two days after deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was put on trial by the military-backed government. The proceedings were adjourned until January, after repeated courtroom outbursts by the ex-leader, some of the other 14 defendants and courtroom spectators.
Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, was ousted in an army-led July 3 coup after a single turbulent year in power. He insists he is still the country’s legitimate president.
In the months since Morsi’s removal, thousands of his followers have been arrested, including nearly all of the Brotherhood’s senior figures. More than 1,200 pro-Morsi protesters have been killed by security forces since the coup, according to human rights groups.
Meanwhile, the government reacted angrily to fresh criticism of the legal proceedings against Morsi.
Turkey, which has an Islamist-leaning government, this week repeated its view that Morsi should be reinstated, and challenged Egyptian authorities’ right to try him. A similar statement came from an influential group of Muslim clerics, the International Union of Muslim Scholars. The union is led by an Egyptian cleric now based in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, whose leaders have also been critical of Morsi’s ouster.
Egypt’s foreign ministry said such calls amounted to interference in the country’s domestic affairs, state media reported. Egypt has already recalled its ambassador to Turkey in protest of earlier statements, and this week Egypt’s central bank returned $500 million to Qatar, saying it did not need the funds.