The New York Times reports: Egypt’s military-backed leaders on Wednesday designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, outlawing the country’s most successful political movement and vowing to treat anyone who belongs to it — or even takes part in its activities — as a terrorist.
The country’s leaders have been locked in conflict with the movement since July, when the military deposed Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president and a former Brotherhood leader. The state’s security forces have killed hundreds of the movement’s supporters during protests against Mr. Morsi’s removal. Most of the Brotherhood’s leaders and thousands of its members have been imprisoned.
Now, with Wednesday’s decision, the government signaled its determination to cut off any air to the more than 80-year-old Islamist organization.
Analysts said the designation opened the door to the most severe crackdown on the movement in decades, requiring hundreds of thousands of Brotherhood members to abandon the group or face prison, and granting the military and the police new authority to violently suppress protests. The decision makes it a crime to promote the Brotherhood and could also outlaw hundreds of welfare and charitable organizations affiliated with the movement that help Egyptians who have little access to government services.
The move came a day after officials blamed the Brotherhood for a suicide bombing at a police headquarters north of Cairo that killed 16 people, though on Wednesday a separate group — Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which has derided the Brotherhood for its lack of militancy — claimed responsibility for that bombing. [Continue reading…]