by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The registration of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group as a legal civil society body is seen by many as "a trick" to avoid judicial challenges about its legal status and to quench opposition calls to dismantle the group.
"The MB registration as an NGO was just meant to circumvent the law," political expert Ammar Ali Hassan, head of the Middle East Center for Political Studies, said. He described the group's move as "more like a political propaganda rather than a proper legal action."
Egypt's State Commissioners Authority, a judicial body with the Supreme Administrative Court, issued a report Wednesday, recommending the court to dismantle the MB, arguing "its presence has no legal basis." However, on Thursday, Insurance and Social Affairs Minister Nagwa Khalil said the MB was already registered as a civil society organization on Tuesday after the group had submitted a legal request approved by the ministry.
"The law regulating NGOs does not allow exercising political work. I do not think the MB will be committed to this rule as an NGO," Hassan said, expressing his belief that the group's Freedom and Justice Party and the NGO were just legal covers to justify their too many headquarters across the country.
Hassan rhetorically wondered if the MB would dismantle its consultation offices as a group and form a board as an NGO, and if its chief Mohamed Badei would be named the NGO board director to suit the law.
For his part, Emad Eddin Hussein, editor-in-cheif of Shorouk newspaper, said the MB would not be satisfied as an NGO, wondering if it would subject its funds, which is said to have reached 60 billion U.S. dollars, to the law.
"The main challenge is that the group conforms with the law without circumventing it," Hussein said, arguing that the MB would not be restricted to social work as required by the law that prevents NGOs from engaging in politics.
Hussein said "the big problem" was that the MB would have to work as a society not as a group, wondering "what then will happen to the Brotherhood as a group and to its chief as the group leader? "
The political expert saw that the MB was just gaining some time by having a legal political party and a legal NGO until a new law is drafted to legalize the existence of the group as a real ( political) group.
The administrative court will rule on lawsuits demanding dissolution of the MB on March 26.
Ahmed al-Badri, a lawyer and legal expert, said the group had to legalize its existence "to avoid legal, judicial and media attacks and to silence its opponents."
He said that some group members said the MB works in 80 states across the globe, and such an international organization cannot and will not be just an NGO.
"I personally believe that the Brotherhood should have dismantled itself once it established its Freedom and Justice Party, as their political voice is heard and there is no longer need for its presence as a controversial community," Badri told Xinhua.
The MB was referred to as "the banned group" during the time of ex-President Hosni Mubarak until the 2011 upheaval that brought the group's Mohamed Morsi to power and turned it to "the ruling group."
"The group was already legal according to the current law regulating civil society organizations and the judicial report recommending its dissolution does not worry us," MB secretary- general Mahmoud Hussein told Xinhua on Thursday.