The Muslim Brotherhood’s astonishingly rapid fall in Egypt this summer continued today, with a court returning them to their formerly banned status. The judge not only proscribed the formerly-elected group from organizing or politicking, he also ordered their assets seized by the government that toppled them:
An Egyptian court has banned the Muslim Brotherhood and has ordered its assets confiscated. …
The court cast its verdict on a lawsuit brought about by Egypt’s left-wing Tagammu party, which has demanded the group’s dissolution.
Reuters notes that this will likely have the effect of ending the group’s attempt to gain power through legitimate democratic means:
An Egyptian court on Monday banned the Muslim Brotherhood from carrying out any activities in the country and ordered the seizure of the group’s funds, widening a campaign to debilitate the Islamist movement of deposed President Mohamed Mursi. …
The court decision is likely to drive more Brotherhood members underground and it may encourage young Islamists to take up arms against the state.
Al-Arabiya called it a “dramatic escalation”:
“The court bans the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood organization and its non-governmental organization and all the activities that it participates in and any organization derived from it,” said the presiding judge Mohammed al-Sayed.
The decision marks a dramatic escalation of a crackdown by the military-backed government against the supporters of the ousted Mursi.
The court ordered the government to seize the Brotherhood’s funds and administer its frozen assets.
This may sound satisfying to those who oppose the Muslim Brotherhood, but don’t expect the satisfaction to last. First, this is not much change in the practical sense for the group, which has been shut down by the military since the coup and many of its leaders detained. Mohamed Morsi, their former president of Egypt, has not been heard from since the army seized control of Egypt two months ago. The interim government has banned their demonstrations and has probes into their operations that all but paralyzed the group this summer already, even without this order.
Besides, this is a group that knows how to operate as an underground society. Only in recent years was it given leeway to operate openly as sort of a semi-tolerated opposition, but it spent 85 years as an officially banned organization until the 2011 revolution that sent Hosni Mubarak packing. The Brotherhood survived and even thrived as a quasi-secret society in Egypt, spawning organizations such as Hamas and having its rejects form groups like al-Qaeda.
This move won’t change much except the current membership’s approach to seeking power. But that changed in the coup, not in court, so this won’t even have that kind of impact. What may have changed, though, will be the view of Egyptians who believed that the Muslim Brotherhood had the competence to lead if given the chance. After watching the group attempt to hijack the legislative and judicial institutions they fought to free, it may take another generation of Egyptians before they get another chance to prove themselves. In the end, the Muslim Brotherhood set themselves back, rather than the military or court being the culprit.