Egypt's 6 April group pen new document for a change of strategy
Osman El Sharnoubi, Tuesday 7 Apr 2015
In the 7th anniversary of its inception, the 6 April Youth Movement lay down democratic vision in document

Egypt's prominent pro-democracy group the 6 April Youth Movement announced on its seventh anniversary the launching of a new strategy and vision.

The group held the its seventh anniversary in Giza's 6 October suburb, saying all the other conference halls they tried to reserve rejected them.

The movement, at the forefront of anti-government protests since Egypt's 2011 revolution, had its activities banned recently by an urgent-matters court. Its founder, Ahmed Maher, is jailed on charges related to a controversial protest law issued in 2013, along with leading member Mohamed Adel.

In the document posted on its Facebook page, the group detailed its vision for Egypt by laying down the goals it hopes to achieve, which they say they have defended since their inception in 2008. Central to the documents aims is the establishment of a civil state obligated by its citizens to follow a democratic path.

"This is the first time we have laid out our vision in a document and we have put a lot of effort into it and will develop it further," Amr Ali, 6 April's general coordinator, told Ahram Online.

The goals outlined in the document include striving for a state which treats all its citizens with equality and to adopt measures to fight corruption, ensure transparency and to preserve human rights and public freedoms.

In addition, the document also acknowledged the importance of developing the economy to enable the state to provide quality education and healthcare.

The group emphasised that it will oppose acts of violence carried out by the state or any other group – in a capacity exceeding the lawful use of force. It also included in its definition of violence direct confrontations and what it called "structural violence" which it described as issues such as poor health services and railway accidents.

"This document will be useful against accusations 6 April don't have a unified vision and strategy, that we are merely sticking to slogans," Ali said.

The group also said it will cooperate with anyone who believes in their vision as long they haven't been involved in corruption or bloodshed, either presently or in the past.

6 April was created by activists who called for a general strike after a workers strike turned into mass protests in Egypt's industrial city of Mahalla in the Nile Delta in 2008.

Ali told Ahram Online that experts are examining the group's political document and further additions will probably be made to it.

"It may turn into a political programme, we're still discussing it," he said.

The strategies to obtain the group's announced goals were briefly summarised in the document as follows: Developing the collective awareness of Egyptians to entrench the values of pluralism and democracy and using collective action, though also engaging in mainstream politics.

The movement will seek change through popular action not imposed by elites, it said, and will attempt to forge alliances with like-minded groups in order to reach its goal of establishing alternatives to make Egypt a modern state.

The group also said it will develop its performance and re-organise in order to be more effective in producing leaders capable of achieving the goals of the 2011 revolution.

On its anniversary on Monday, the group's leader Maher wrote a letter from prison accusing Egyptian authorities of clamping down on democratic activity since the revolution which toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011. He accused all the authorities who have been in power since since then as being abusive, including the Supreme Council of Armed Forces after Mubarak and the subsequent Muslim Brotherhood rule under Mohamed Morsi.

Maher launched a scathing attack against current Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, accusing him of using the "alleged war on terrorism to tighten his grip on power" to perpetuate "oppression, tyranny, corruption and absolutism."

Maher stressed on the necessity of struggle against dictatorship.

Commenting on 6 April's new vision, Said Sadek, political sociology professor at the American University in Cairo, said in statements to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website that changes are a necessity for any group to be able to adapt to new political realities.

Sadek says the general mood of Egyptians after four years of political instability has changed and that the continuation of the same political mechanisms employed to oust Mubarak aren't effective anymore. This may force the movement to engage in politics via organised parties which are currently a more publicly acceptable method of engagement, Sadek also added.

A complaint was filed at Egypt's general prosecutor's office against the group in March accusing it of engaging in acts of terrorism, according to a recently issued Terrorist Entities law, a move the group sees as further evidence the government is cracking down on democratic activity.