A blow for the Muslim Brotherhood: Egyptian court dissolves radical Islamist parliament

The battle between Egypt’s military leaders and the ascendant Muslim Brotherhood over the country’s political fate dramatically sharpened when the nation’s constitutional court dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament while upholding the right of an ally of deposed leader Hosni Murbarak, Ahmed Shafiq, to remain on this weekend’s presidential election ballot.

MUBARAK ALLY, AHMED SHAFIQ

LA TIMES  The decisions by the Supreme Constitutional Court on Thursday strengthened the army’s hand and tipped the nation into disarray two days before the presidential runoff begins. They are a setback for the Brotherhood, which controlled nearly half of parliament and expected to expand its power if its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, defeated Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister to serve Mubarak, in voting that concludes Sunday.

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The court rulings strike at the core of Egypt’s long, often bloody struggle over what ideology will govern the Arab world’s most populous nation. After enduring years of persecution and arrests, the Brotherhood, the country’s most potent opposition under Mubarak, rose to prominence and closed in on its goal of imposing political Islam with its strong showing in May’s first round of voting. But the nation’s interim rulers — many of them army generals appointed by Mubarak — appear loath to bow to a new era that could compromise their authority.

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Activists characterized the rulings as a maneuver by the military to weaken the Brotherhood ahead of the army’s promise to hand power to a civilian government by July. Some fear that a victory by Shafik, a retired air force general, would cement the military’s grip and upend the demands for democratic change that fueled the uprising last year that brought down Mubarak, Egypt’s autocratic leader for three decades.

“All this equals a complete coup d’etat through which the military council is writing off the most noble stage in the nation’s history,” Mohamed Beltagy, a member of parliament with the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, said on his Facebook page. “This is the Egypt which Shafik and the military council desire.” READ MORE

Some reactions on the street: