Egyptian court rules Hamas a terrorist organisation

Ahram Online , Saturday 28 Feb 2015

The relationship between Egypt and Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip, has been tense since the ouster of Morsi in 2013

Khaled Meshaal
File Photo: Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal speaks in Doha, July 23, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters on Saturday ruled Hamas a terrorist organisation, a month after the group's military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, was also designated a terror group by the same court.

The verdict resulted from two separate private suits filed by Samir Sabry and Ashraf Said, both lawyers, against the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip.

The relationship between Egypt's authorities and the Islamist group has soured since the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian sister organisation.

Egypt's cabinet declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group in December 2013, and the authorities have since charged many Brotherhood members with offences including support for terrorism. 

Egypt has accused Hamas of meddling into its internal affairs and supporting Islamist insurgents in Sinai, accusations that the group has repeatedly denied.

Cairo has kept the Rafah crossing to the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip closed for extended periods since Morsi's ouster.

The court's reasoning on Saturday for designating Hamas a terrorist organisation mirrored its January Al-Qassam ruling.

In January, the court said that Al-Qassam's and Hamas' "support and financing of terrorist attacks in Egypt show that  they have swayed from their original cause of fighting the Israeli occupation."

In recent months, the Egyptian government has been strengthening penalties for acts of terrorism in its penal code.

Last week, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has also signed a sweeping new anti-terrorism legislation to counter "Terrorist Entities".

It is not yet clear how these court decisions would affect Egyptian traditional efforts to mediate peace talks or cease fires between Gaza leaders and their Israeli counterparts.

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