CAIRO: An Egyptian court yesterday banned all Hamas activities in Egypt in another sign that the military-backed government aims to squeeze the Palestinian Islamist group that rules the neighbouring Gaza Strip.
Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which the authorities have declared a terrorist group and which they have repressed systematically since the army ousted one of its leaders, Mohamed Mursi, from the presidency in July.
“The court has ordered the banning of Hamas’s work and activities in Egypt,” the judge, who asked not to be named, said.
During his year in power, Mursi gave red-carpet treatment to Hamas, angering many secular and liberal Egyptians who saw this as part of a creeping Islamist takeover following the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The military-buttressed authorities now classify Hamas as a significant security risk, accusing it of supporting an Islamist insurgency that has spread quickly since Mursi’s fall, allegations the Palestinian group denies.
The court also ordered the closure of Hamas offices in Egypt, one of the judges overseeing the case said. The judge stopped short of declaring Hamas a terrorist group, saying the court did not have the jurisdiction to do so.
Hamas condemned the ruling.
“The decision harms the image of Egypt and its role towards the Palestinian cause. It reflects a form of standing against Palestinian resistance (to Israel),” said Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the Gaza-based militant organisation.