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Court bans April 6 activities

The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters banned the activities of the April 6 Youth Movement for its involvement in “acts that tarnish Egypt’s image as well as espionage,” Al-Ahram reported.

Lawyer Ashraf Saeed had filed a case against interim President Adly Mansour, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb and Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, demanding that the movement’s activities be banned and its headquarters be seized.

Two of its founding members, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, are currently serving three-year sentences handed down to them last December for allegedly violating the Protest Law, which criminalizes political gatherings of more than 10 people not authorized by the police.

Mohamed Fouad, spokesperson of the April 6 Youth Movement Democratic Front, told Mada Masr that the ruling is both expected and politicized, adding that they will immediately move to file an appeal.

“The ruling is a politicized one, meant to suppress any kind of criticism against Sisi,” he said, referring to favored presidential candidate and former Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

“We have been more vocal recently on two fronts: against the Protest Law and against Sisi running for president — not for reasons that have to do with him as a person, but because we’re against bringing the military into politics,” Fouad said.

He recalls that the movement has been called out on accusations of tarnishing Egypt’s image and endangering stability before. “It happened under SCAF in 2011, when they said we want to destabilize the country, and we filed a complaint against this and asked for proof to be submitted. These complaints have been shelved since then.”

Part of the ruling calls for the movement’s headquarters to be seized, to which Fouad replies: “We don’t have headquarters or main offices. We never have. It is a known fact that we have always met in public places or at political parties offices, so this decision is odd in and of itself.”

The movement’s political bureau is currently meeting to decide on what steps to take next. “Right now our main concern is the safety of our members,” he said.

The April 6 Youth Movement was established to support the workers in al-Mahalla al-Kubra in a strike on April 6, 2008. The group’s activities waned in the three years between its founding and the January 25 revolution.

The group has so far been operating outside the scope of formal political parties and but remains heavily engaged in street politics. The movement has been playing an active role since the January 25 uprising in 2011.

Unlike several political groups, the April 6 Youth Movement chose not to side with either of the two poles of the conflict in Egypt between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July.  

The group has been accused of having connections with the ousted Muslim Brotherhood, especially after some of its members joined the Ahrar movement, which is sympathetic to the Brotherhood.

Today, the group has evolved to several thousand members across several governorates. 

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