Jordan's top court dissolves Muslim Brotherhood Group

The Court of Cassation's final ruling ends a long-running legal dispute

Protesters from the Muslim Brotherhood Association during a rally in support of the Jordan King and his Custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem, at the Dead Sea, near Amman. EPA
Protesters from the Muslim Brotherhood Association during a rally in support of the Jordan King and his Custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem, at the Dead Sea, near Amman. EPA

Jordan’s top court has ruled the Muslim Brotherhood Group as dissolved for the second time in a year, dealing a blow to the group's efforts to reverse its political fortunes and maintain its social base.

Late on Wednesday, the Court of Cassation, the highest appeals court, ruled against the now legally defunct Muslim Brotherhood movement, which had filed a motion challenging the legality of the seizure of its lands and properties by the country’s Land and Survey’s department.

The department is the most powerful non-armed division of the bureaucracy, and is the ultimate arbiter of who owns what in Jordan.

But the Brotherhood remains Jordan's largest and best-organised political movement, and the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the Brotherhood’s political arm, remains a properly-licensed entity. The IAF is a legally operating party, with 15 seats in parliament.

The court's final ruling ends a years-long dispute between the Muslim Brotherhood Group – founded in 1945 – and the Muslim Brotherhood Society, a breakaway group given legal status by the government in 2015 and which toes lines set by the authorities.

In May 2019, the Cassation Court ruled that the original Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood was dissolved, paving the way for the transfer of its lands and properties across the country to the Society.

In yesterday’s decision, the court reiterated its 2019 ruling that found the Group had never been registered under the 1953 charitable organisations law.

It also stressed that the Society was a legally-recognised body, upholding the original legal edict by the country’s Legislation and Opinion Bureau and that the transfer of land was valid.

The Brotherhood, whose office was shuttered by authorities in 2016, have no additional legal avenues to challenge this decision.

Although the IAF is the largest political party within parliament and the Jordanian opposition, the Brotherhood’s true strength has drawn from its massive charitable organisation and social support networks.

It was through these charitable networks and Islamic Centres placed in towns and governorates across the country, that the Brotherhood interacted directly with citizens for decades providing education, healthcare, monthly food drops, cash assistance and rent support.

The Islamic Centre, these entities and lands have all been stripped away from the group.

Wednesday’s decision also prevents the Brotherhood, whose membership outnumbers that of the IAF by nearly ten-fold, from holding large rallies and marches that it used to protest wars, Israeli violations in Palestinian territories, and later to push for political reforms during the Arab Uprising.

In recent years, the Brotherhood has been absent from the Jordanian political scene, with activities limited to small-scale protests against US and Israeli moves perceived to be against Palestinians interests.

Ongoing friction between the old guard leadership at the Muslim Brotherhood and younger members demanding a more active role and voice on issues within Jordan eventually led to an exodus of young members starting in 2014.

These former Brotherhood members, who are more pragmatic and focus on economic and political reform at home than solely regional causes, have since joined moderate Islamist parties such as the ZamZam Party, or have become political independents.

The 2015 Muslim Brotherhood Group Society, which positioned itself as a splinter group of Brotherhood devotees seeking to ensure the movement stays “Jordanian” and free of outside influence, today is largely a shell organisation with little political presence or activities.

The original Brotherhood and observers claim it is a pro-government entity that served the purpose of stripping the original movement of its legal position and properties, a charge they deny.

Updated: July 16, 2020 07:43 PM


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