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CAIRO: An Egyptian judge rules next week on whether President Mohammed Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood is illegal, in a case that has put the group on the defensive and may stoke political tension.
Seeking to shield itself ahead of the ruling due on Tuesday, the Brotherhood announced this week it had gained new legal status by registering as a non-governmental organisation, reversing a previous decision not to do so under existing laws.
Brought by anti-Brotherhood lawyers, the court case points to the deep antipathy some harbour towards a group that was formally dissolved in 1954 and forced to operate underground until President Hosni Mubarak was ousted two years ago.
The impact of any ruling against the Brotherhood is likely to be more political than practical: analysts find it inconceivable that the state will take any measures against a group that is now at the heart of power.
But such a decision could stir more rancour against the Islamists as they face increasingly violent protests. Hardcore activists have called for more demonstrations outside the Brotherhood’s headquarters today. A ruling against the Brotherhood would “add fuel to the acrimony between the Brotherhood supporters and detractors”, said Elijah Zarwan, a Cairo-based political analyst.
It might also trigger more lawsuits against the Brotherhood. The courts have had a major impact on the political transition to date, cancelling elections this year and dissolving parliament last year. A report by a panel of judges published on Wednesday upheld the view that the group had no legal status. REUTERS