CAIRO - Egypt is expected to announce soon whether or not to dissolve an NGO linked to the Muslim Brotherhood amid allegations it operates as a front for the Islamist group.

On August 14, the authorities launched a fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood following the army’s July 3 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the group. Top Brotherhood leaders, including its supreme guide, have been arrested, effectively decapitating the movement and disrupting its organisation. “The decision will be announced in a few days,” said Hani Mhana, spokesman for the ministry of social solidarity which has received complaints about the NGO’s operations. However, a media adviser to the cabinet said no decision has yet been taken on the issue. “The government has not taken any decision,” Sherif Shawky said.

Mhana said the NGO has been accused of involvement in several illegal activities. “The Egyptian authorities are accusing the Muslim Brotherhood NGO of engaging in violent actions, using the headquarters (of the Brotherhood) for political activities and storing weapons in it and firing on protesters,” Mhana said. He said the authorities had given the NGO three chances to explain its position. “But there was no response,” he said. Social Solidarity Minister Ahmed Hassan el-Boraie declined to comment to AFP, saying only: “Everything will be clarified at a press conference this week.” The ministry’s legal adviser Mohammed el-Demerdash said that “all discussions about the dissolution concern the NGO and not the group. The group has no legal status to be dissolved.”

Meanwhil, thousands of supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi turned out for protests in Cairo after Friday prayers, despite a sustained crackdown on Islamists by the country’s new authorities. Islamist held smaller rallies elsewhere in the country, with medics reporting two people killed in Alexandria and the Nile Delta province of Damietta in clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents. AFP correspondents said the Cairo protesters mainly rallied in upscale suburb of Maadi, while state news agency MENA reported small demonstrations in other parts of the country. The protests come a day after Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim survived a bomb targeting his convoy. A senior health official told AFP one person injured in the blast died on Friday. The protests were called by an Islamist coalition led by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, whose leaders have been rounded up by police after security forces stormed their protest camps on August 14.

Hundreds of people were killed in the operation against the two Cairo protest camps and ensuing nationwide violence.

Morsi was ousted by the military on July 3 after popular protests against his single year of turbulent rule. He is being held at an unknown location.

State media has said that Morsi will stand trial in a criminal court for “incitement to murder” along with 14 other Muslim Brotherhood members, but no date has yet been given for the trial.

Since Morsi’s ouster Egypt’s new authorities have arrested the Brotherhood’s supreme guide and more than 2,000 members, disrupting the group’s ability to mobilise supporters.

Earlier, an official told AFP the government would soon decide whether to dissolve an NGO registered under the Brotherhood’s name amid allegations.

The NGO is legally a separate entity to the Brotherhood movement.