by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- The future of Islamic-oriented political parties in Egypt has been at stake as the Administrative Court decided on Saturday to dismantle the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said Egyptian experts.
The move is seen as a warning message to other Islamic-based parties like Salafist Al-Nour Party, which approved last year's military ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and supported newly-elected President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi over fellow Brotherhood Islamists.
"The constitution prevents the establishment of political parties on religious or military bases, and Al-Nour Party could face the same destiny of the FJP if subjected to a similar lawsuit, " said legal expert Noman Gomaa, former dean of Law College at Cairo University.
The professor, who once ran for president against ex-President Hosni Mubarak, explained that Al-Nour and similar parties would be dismantled if their regulations, principles or thoughts are connected to religion or military. "The law prevents religion to be involved in politics," he said.
A few months following the removal of the Brotherhood-oriented president, the new leadership launched a massive security crackdown on Morsi's loyalists, blacklisting the group as "a terrorist organization" and preventing its members from joining presidential and parliamentary elections.
"The FJP was established when the Brotherhood was in power," Gomaa said, stressing that its establishment was legally invalid and that the decision of the Administrative Court to dismantle it is "final and non-appealable."
With regards to those Islamists who would seek to join the upcoming parliamentary elections, the former chief of Al-Wafd Party said that there is no legal text that prevents any Egyptian from joining polls "as long as they do not announce a program based on religion or represent a specific religious group," noting that the constitution is based on equality.
Although referred to as "the banned group" during the time of Mubarak, the Brotherhood managed to garner 20 percent of the parliament seats in the 2005 election.
Mubarak at that time was pressured by the United States, political sociology professor Saeed Sadeq said, noting that the ex- ruler used the Islamist movement as a "scary tool" for his opponents to remain in power.
Soon after court dismantled the FJP, Al-Nour party said their legal situation is "completely valid" and insisted that any lawsuits to dissolve the Salafist party would eventually be turned down.
Sadeq said the Salafist Al-Nour Party in particular has a special status because it does not have similar religious activities like the Brotherhood and that it is affiliated with the current regime and security apparatuses.
He added that the Brotherhood has been in confrontation with all Egyptian rulers since it was established in 1928, whereas Al- Nour, which has been formed after Mubarak was ousted in 2011, is affiliated with Sisi's leadership.
"Still, Al-Nour and other Islamic parties could be dissolved but I believe the new leadership is keeping Al-Nour for the time being as a political card against the Brotherhood," Sadeq explained.
The security crackdown on the Brotherhood and their supporters has left more than 1,000 killed and thousands others arrested over the past year. The Brotherhood's supreme leader Mohamed Badie has recently been sentenced to death over inciting violence and Morsi himself is now in custody for charges including ordering killing of protesters, insulting the judiciary, espionage and jailbreak.
"The presence of the FJP means the possibility for the Brotherhood to take part in the political life and make use of the political and legal frameworks provided by the party," said Nabil Abdel-Fattah, researcher on Islamic movements at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
He pointed out that terminating the group's political wing eliminates any legal presence for the group or its members and shows that one of the margins left for behind-closed-doors dialogue between the current leadership and the group "could not bear any fruits."
Following the approval of a new constitution and the recent presidential elections, the upcoming parliamentary elections, whose date hasn't yet been set, is the third and final phase in Egypt's future roadmap outlined by the military after removing Morsi.
"Today's court order gives a clear message that any Islamic groups that would mix between religion and politics are likely to face the same end," Abdel-Fattah told Xinhua.