Jordan’s top court dissolves country’s Muslim Brotherhood

Amman moves against Islamist group defined by Egypt as a terrorist organization; leader insists it is ‘a model of moderation’

Flags of the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan, and other political parties are waved with other protest signs denouncing the US-led Middle East economic conference in Bahrain, on June 21, 2019. (Khalil Mazraawi/ AFP)
Flags of the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan, and other political parties are waved with other protest signs denouncing the US-led Middle East economic conference in Bahrain, on June 21, 2019. (Khalil Mazraawi/ AFP)

AMMAN, Jordan (AFP) — Jordan’s top court has dissolved the country’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Islamist movement, an official said Thursday, citing the group’s failure to “rectify its legal status.”

“The Court of Cassation yesterday (Wednesday) issued a final verdict ruling that the Muslim Brotherhood group is dissolved… for failing to rectify its legal status under Jordanian law,” the official said, requesting anonymity.

The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, is a pan-Islamic movement with both charitable and political arms.

It has faced years of pressure, especially in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, and has been outlawed as a “terrorist” group in Egypt and banned in several other countries.

Amman had tolerated the group’s political arm for decades, but since 2014 authorities have considered it illegal, arguing its license was not renewed under a 2014 law on political parties.

It continued to operate, but its relations with the Jordanian state deteriorated further from 2015 when the government authorized an offshoot group, the Muslim Brotherhood Association.

In this photo taken on December 13, 2017, a Jordanian man takes part in a demonstration organized by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic movements outside the American embassy in the capital Amman against the US president’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP)

In April 2016, security services closed the Brotherhood’s Amman headquarters and several regional offices, transferring their ownership to the splinter group in a step the movement denounced as political.

The original Brotherhood took the case to court in a bid to retrieve the properties, but the court in its verdict Wednesday ordered it dissolved.

The Brotherhood argues that it had already obtained licences to operate under previous laws in the 1940s and 1950s — and stressed that it would appeal Wednesday’s ruling.

The group’s spokesman, Moaz al-Khawaldeh, said the Muslim Brotherhood did not consider the ruling as “final” and that a legal team was preparing to appeal.

“The Brotherhood will not melt away because of an administrative ruling and we continue to carry out our activities in alternative rental properties,” Khawaldeh told AFP.

This file photo taken on April 13, 2016 shows men standing outside the main entrance of the Muslim Brotherhood’s office in the Jordanian capital, after it was shut by police acting on orders of the Amman governor. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP)

“The ruling is not final and our legal team is meeting in order to submit the legal documents necessary to appeal” the verdict, he added.

‘Not outlaws’

Sheikh Hamza Mansur, head of the organization’s ruling council, said the group would appeal against Wednesday’s ruling.

“The Muslim Brotherhood… is a model of moderation and an important element in strengthening national unity, so dissolving it is not in the national interest,” he told AFP.

Khawaldeh echoed him, adding: “We are not outlaws.”

“We are ready to develop our legal status within a framework that could be agreed upon.

In this photo taken on December 29, 2017, Jordanian police stand guard as protesters wave Palestinian and Muslim Brotherhood flags during a demonstration against the US president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the Jordanian capital Amman. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP)

“But unfortunately the authorities have shut the doors (to negotiations)… and are not offering any initiative to solve this crisis,” he said.

The breakaway group — the Muslim Brotherhood Association — aimed to sever ties with the Brotherhood in Egypt, where hundreds of supporters have been killed and thousands detained since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Jordan’s Islamic Action Front, a political party aligned with the original Brotherhood chapter there, has had 16 members of parliament since 2016 elections.

It had boycotted polls in 2010 and 2013. Elections are set for later this year but the coronavirus crisis has cast doubt over whether they will take place.

The Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood has wide grassroots support in the kingdom.

The movement is also banned in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries in the region, but is supported by Turkey and Qatar.

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