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Egypt court upholds Muslim Brotherhood ban

CAIRO — A court in Egypt upheld Wednesday an earlier ruling that banned the Muslim Brotherhood and ordered its assets confiscated, the state news agency reported. The decision moves forward the complicated process of the government taking control of the Islamist group’s far-reaching social network and its finances.

The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters rejected the Brotherhood’s appeal to suspend the Sept. 23 ruling that ordered the group’s assets confiscated and its activities banned.

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The sweeping September verdict was viewed as a legal pretext for the interim authorities to move against assets owned or administered by Brotherhood members, including schools, hospitals, charities, and businesses.

It is part of a wider government crackdown against the group following the popularly backed coup in July that removed President Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood member and Egypt’s first elected leader after the 2011 fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Senior leaders have been arrested, and many of them sent to trial on a number of charges, including Morsi. His trial began Monday on charges of incitement to murder, but has been adjourned until January.

Egypt’s military-backed authorities formed a committee on Oct.2 to review the Brotherhood assets but have not moved against its finances.

Outlawed for most of its 85-year existence — with successive regimes alternating between repression and tolerance — the Brotherhood built its networks largely underground. That made it difficult for authorities to track, since many institutions were registered under individuals’ names.

Brotherhood lawyer Osama el-Helw said the group will file another appeal against Wednesday’s ruling, but this appeal, unlike the first, will not suspend implementation of the ban unless it is accepted by a court. It is also unlikely to reverse the initial ruling, legal specialists said.

Ahmed Ragheb, an independent rights lawyer, said the decision has legal flaws: It comes from the wrong court and its guidelines for a government monitoring Brotherhood assets are unclear.

Technically, Wednesday’s verdict allows the government to move in on the group’s assets. The committee that includes judicial, security, and intelligence officials has started to do an inventory of the group’s finances.

The government has come under pressure from politicians and public figures to fast-track the financial crackdown, blaming the government-formed committee of stalling on implementing the court ruling. On Wednesday, the Cabinet asked the committee to issue regular reports about its work.

The Tagammu party, which filed the case against the group, said the new ruling should give authorities the green light.

‘‘The government must take urgent measures to implement the court ruling . . . and prove it is serious about implementing the law,’’ Hani el-Husseini, a Tagammu member, told the official MENA news agency.

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