(Photo: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
The Muslim Brotherhood was officially declared a terrorist organization by the Egyptian government on Wednesday, over a year after winning the country's first democratic presidential elections with former leader Mohamed Morsi.
"All of Egypt ... was terrified by the ugly crime that the Muslim Brotherhood group committed by blowing up the building of the Dakahlyia security directorate," the Egyptian government said in an official statement.
The decision came after the latest crackdown on the Islamic party, which is being accused of carrying out a suicide bomb attack that killed 16 people at a police station on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
"This is a turning point in the confrontation. This is an important tool for the government to close any door in the face of the Brotherhood's return to political life," noted Khalil al-Anani, a Washington-based expert on the movement.
The Islamic movement, which rose to political power 18 months ago and helped Morsi become president, suffered a significant blow after protests led to Morsi's ousting in July. It has been accused of inciting violence on several occasions, including urging radicals to attack Christian churches and property in retaliation for Morsi's ousting, but has mostly been driven underground by Egypt's interim government.
In September, Egyptian judges recommended that the Brotherhood be dissolved, accusing it of operating outside the law. The latest move, however, allows authorities the power to charge members or those supporting the Brotherhood with belonging to a terrorist organization.
The Muslim Brotherhood has spoken out against the bombings at the police station, something which was recognized by the White House.
"We condemn in the strongest terms the horrific, terrorist bombing yesterday. There can be no place for such violence. The Egyptian people deserve peace and calm. We also note that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt condemned the bombing shortly after it occurred yesterday," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
"We are concerned about the current atmosphere and its potential effects on a democratic transition in Egypt," she added.
The Islamic party has also been accused of using fraudulent means to help Morsi win the election in 2012, with accounts that it turned away Christians from the polls.
"I know this firsthand because I know folks on the ground. In thousands of villages, during the election, they stood with guns outside the polling booths. And if a Christian wanted to go in to vote, they would say 'You go in, and we'll kill you.' And so hundreds of thousands of Christians couldn't vote," Dr. Michael Youssef, founding pastor of the 3,000 member Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, shared in an interview with The Christian Post in July.