April 6 court ban is politicised: Egypt groups

Ahram Online , Tuesday 29 Apr 2014

Various political groups condemn the ban on April 6 activities as contradicting basic freedoms and signalling a return to a repressive Egypt

April 6
Members of the April 6 movement and liberal activists shout slogans against a law restricting demonstrations as well as the crackdown on activists, in front of El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo April 26, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian political groups condemned the legal ban imposed Monday on Egypt's April 6 Youth Movement, describing the court ruling that sanctioned the decision as politicised.

In a Tuesday statement, Egypt's liberal Constitution Party said the court-ordered ban represents a "dangerous departure from Egypt's 3 July roadmap, the path and democratic principles chosen by the Egyptian people on 25 January and 30 June."

A court on Monday ordered the freezing of April 6 activities, charging the group with espionage and defamation of the state. None of the group's individual members, however, face such charges.

The Constitution Party, which labelled the charges as "false", said it viewed the ruling as part of a general crackdown on peaceful political activity, likening the verdict to a harsh protest law passed by Egyptian authorities last November.

"The rule of law is now as threatened as it was when the Muslim Brotherhood was in power," the statement said, stressing that the state institutions which undermine law and justice by allowing such arbitrary charges must be brought to account.

Similarly, the presidential campaign of Nasserist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi warned of the "return to a state of suppression and banning" of peaceful political activity.

In a statement released late on Monday, the campaign admonished against the use of the judiciary for political objectives and as a repressive tool.

Echoing the Constitution Party statement, Sabahi's campaign highlighted the reappearance of incidents that all contradict the principles of the 25 January revolution.

Defying the court ban, April 6 vowed to maintain their activities and remain a source of vocal opposition.

The group affirmed in a statement that it has always been committed to peaceful activism, stressing that its reluctance to request permits for its recent protests – as stipulated by November's protest law – stems from the belief that "it is every human being's right to express his views as long as it is peacefully done."

Along with the Constitution Party, Sabahi's campaign and other liberal and leftist groups, April 6 have recently been demonstrating against the controversial protest law that has sent many non-Islamist activists behind bars, including the movement's founders Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel.

The April 6 Youth Movement was established in 2008 to support a strike by textile workers in the industrial city of Al-Mahalla Al-Kubra – an event which proved a significant milestone in the mobilisation of activists prior to the 25 January 2011 revolution that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The young group, which played a vital role in the January 2011 uprising, has been the target of an ongoing smear campaign since its founding.

April 6 was first attacked by the Mubarak regime and its founder Ahmed Maher arrested. The group was then acclaimed after the 2011 revolution, only to be criticised again during the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). More recently, the movement has been denounced for opposing the post-Mohamed Morsi interim authorities.

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