CAIRO: The Cabinet enforced Tuesday a court ruling binding the government to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organization,” applying legal penalties to anyone who joins or continues to be a member of the group after the issuance of this decision.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab’s decision widens the possibility being held accountable for “terrorism” to anyone funding the group, partaking in its activities or promoting it verbally, in writing or in any other means.
“The Egyptian Penal Code already has articles on committing and inciting violence. The issue is with how the state applies laws; it can either use it legally or use it to gag opponents,” Ali Atef, lawyer at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information told The Cairo Post Thursday.
Atef set an example of the controversial protest law adopted in November 2013, saying that the Egyptian law already regulates “gatherings.”
The court issued its ruling in February 2014, while the government had already designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization in December 2013 after Mansoura security directorate was bombed, killing 15. The explosion was widely blamed on the Brotherhood, but the group has repeatedly denied any association to the violence.
Coordinator of the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy Magdy Qorqor said the decision infringes on freedom of opinion and thought.
“You can take action against someone who ‘promotes violence,’ but ‘promoting’ the Brotherhood is not ‘promoting violence.’” Qorqor told The Cairo Post.
Qorqor said the decision would not have any effect on the ground, adding that they [the authorities] only want to stop protests although “they claim June 30 protests gave them legitimacy.”
The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL), an Islamist group formed to back former President Mohamed Morsi, released a statement Thursday, praising the “students’ struggle.” The NASL called on people to not let “collaborators of the U.S and Tel Aviv” rest by taking to streets next week starting Friday with “creative peacefulness.”
The Cabinet decision also stipulates the Arab countries signatory to a 1998 counter-terrorism agreement be notified, and tasks the military and police with securing public establishments and the police with protecting universities and students.