An Egyptian court outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood and ordered the confiscation of its assets, following a ruling in Cairo on 23 September.
The order marks a major escalation in the crackdown on the Islamic movement by Egypt's interim government, which has arrested some 2,000 senior and mid-ranking member of the Brotherhood since the military's ousting of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi on 3 July.
The new ruling gives authorities a legal basis to seize properties including the Brotherhood's extensive network of schools, hospitals, charities and social institutions across Egypt.
Hospitals and schools have traditionally been used by the Brotherhood as a means to recruit and garner political support, and this network has grown significantly over the movement's 85-year existence.
For much of that time it has been repressed, including during the almost 30-year reign of Morsi's predecessor Hosni Mubarak, but following the latter's overthrow in 2011 the Brotherhood moved away from its underground origins to operate openly, establishing a formal headquarters and forming a political party, the Freedom and Justic Party (FJP).
The interim government has taken advantage of the movement's openness in an effort to compile a database of Brotherhood members, track down supporters and freeze affiliated bank accounts.
The court's ruling – which accuses the Brotherhood of using Islam "as a cover" while it "violated citizens’ rights" – also banned "any institution branching out of it or ... receiving financial support from it", a mechanism that legal experts suggest could be used to disband the FJP.
Many Egyptians blame the Brotherhood for trying to grab too much power following Morsi's election in June 2012.