Egypt's army-backed government has dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood as a registered non-governmental organization, the state-run Al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Friday, pressing a crackdown on deposed President Mohamed Morsi's movement.
The decision applies to the NGO registered by the Brotherhood in March in response to a lawsuit that argued the group had no legal status and marks a legal challenge to Morsi's movement as the police round up its leaders across the country.
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"The minister's decision has in fact been issued but it will be announced at the start of next week in a press conference," Al-Akhbar quoted Hany Mahana, spokesman for the minister of social solidarity, as saying.
However, Arabic-language Sky News published a report in which the Egyptian government denied the report of the NGO's disbandment.
After veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011, the Brotherhood won parliamentary and presidential elections. The army deposed Morsi on July 3 in response to mass protests against his rule.
The authorities are mounting the harshest crackdown on the Brotherhood in decades, killing hundreds of Mursi's supporters and arresting many of its leaders on charges of inciting violence. There has so far been no attempt to ban its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party.
Social Solidarity Minister Ahmed el-Boraie's decision to dissolve the group as an NGO stemmed from accusations that the Brotherhood had used its headquarters to fire and store weapons and explosives.
The move marks a mostly symbolic legal blow to Morsi's group as the authorities round up its members in the harshest crackdown in decades.
Though formally outlawed under Mubarak, the Brotherhood was grudgingly tolerated for much of his presidency, taking part in parliamentary elections and operating a charity network that helped to it to become Egypt's biggest political party.
The Brotherhood was founded in 1928 but formally dissolved by Egypt's army rulers in 1954. The group's opponents drew on that to argue the Brotherhood remained an illegal movement even after Mubarak's downfall. In response, the Brotherhood decided to shore up its legal standing by formally registering as an NGO.
Assassination attemptThe report came a day after Egypt's interior minister survived an assassination attempt on Thursday when a bomb blew up as his convoy drove through Cairo's Nasr City district, state media and security officials said.
Security sources said at least 10 people had been injured, but the minister, who lives in Nasr City, just outside the city centre, was not hurt. Security officials said Egyptian police killed two of the attackers.
The minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, has been among those responsible for a violent crackdown on supporters of Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president ousted two months ago by the army following mass protests against his rule.
Responding to a question on whether the attack marked the start of "a new wave of terrorism", Mohamed Ibrahim said: "What happened today is not the end but the beginning". He added that citizens needed to take care.
Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Amr Darrag condemned the assassination attempt, calling it "regrettable." Ibrahim has helped to oversee a violent crackdown against supporters of Morsi and the Brotherhood, which the military-backed government accuses of terrorism.
Reuters contributed to this report
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