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Egyptian court upholds Muslim Brotherhood ban

By Hadeel Al Shalchi

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood failed in an attempt on Wednesday to overturn a court ruling banning it, the state news agency said, another blow to the debilitated Islamist movement.

A court in September had outlawed the Brotherhood after the army overthrew President Mohamed Mursi in July following mass protests against his rule.

The case against his Brotherhood was brought by a lawyer from the leftist Tagammu party, which cited the need to protect Egyptians from violence.

It accompanied a campaign by security forces to crush the movement in which hundreds of its members have been killed, thousands arrested, and its leaders, including Mursi, put on trial.

Wednesday's decision was another political blow to the group as it would compromise its participation in any new elections.

"In its scheduled session today, the Cairo Urgent Cases court dismissed an appeal raised by the Muslim Brotherhood to stop the execution of the previous order banning the activities of the group," state news agency MENA reported.

Defense lawyer Faisal el-Sayyed, a Brotherhood member, said he would appeal the ruling.

"We will appeal again and again until we banish this law," he told Reuters.

"Unfortunately we are working in a time when there is little respect for the law. But we still have a hint of hope in the law and that we can overcome this legally."

Since Mursi's overthrow, state media has lionized the military and police for the crackdown and his supporters frequently protest in the streets.

The military-installed government has promised new elections next year which foreign governments say must include all political factions to mark a credible return to democracy.

The court ruling indicated the Brotherhood was likely to be excluded.

The Brotherhood has also refused to take part in the transition, saying it would legitimize what they consider a coup. The army says it was responding to the will of the people.

Mursi, Egypt's first freely elected president, faces charges of inciting violence. His trial began on Monday and was adjourned by a judge to early January.

Political analyst Omar Ashour said the ban was an "eradication policy".

"This is just about making sure that the (Muslim) Brothers don't get a significant percentage in any institutions like the parliament," he told Reuters.

"But it's a return to the days of (deposed president) Hosni Mubarak where the Brothers would run as independents and probably face reprisals against them, but continue to challenge them."

Ashour said a legal ban on the organization would make it easier for the government to target members who may plan to run as independents in the upcoming elections.

The Brotherhood had won every national election since Mubarak was toppled in a 2011 uprising. They won a fifth of seats in parliamentary elections in 2005 when they ran as independents.

(Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Angus MacSwan)

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