Nine demonstrators detained on Mohamed Mahmoud anniversary remain in custody

Aswat Masriya , Tuesday 24 Nov 2015

Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes
File Photo: Protesters hurl stones at CSF on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, Cairo, Egypt, 5 February 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

An Egyptian court accepted on Monday the prosecution's motion to remand in custody nine people arrested for "illegal assembly" and "protesting without a permit," while commemorating the fourth anniversary of deadly protests on Downtown Cairo’s iconic Mohamed Mahmoud street.

On Saturday, prosecutors ordered their detention pending investigation. A day later, the judge decided to release them on EGP 10,000 bail each. The prosecution quickly appealed the decision and the court then ordered them to remain in detention.

According to prosecutors, the nine currently in detention belong to the April 6 Youth Movement, the group that was once credited for being a significant force behind the 18-day uprising that ousted Egypt's president of 30 years Hosni Mubarak.

The group has since been subjected to a fierce smear campaign before being banned by court order in 2014. Its first leader Ahmed Maher has remained in jail for months.

The fatal clashes that took place on Mohamed Mahmoud Street four years ago in the tumultuous aftermath of the January 2011 uprising are now a heart-rending memory for many young Egyptians whose dreams for real change were swiftly dashed.

Today, the walls of Mohamed Mahmoud are an open-air gallery showcasing graffiti of the faces of those killed in the protests, casting blame on all those who held power in the past five years.

Last Thursday, Nov. 19, which coincided with the fourth anniversary of Mohamed Mahmoud clashes, participants built a human chain on Six of October bridge, a main artery in Greater Cairo, carrying hand-written signs remembering the victims. One of them read "glory to the martyrs" and another "write on the walls of the cell, imprisoning revolutionaries is a disgrace and a betrayal."

Ahmed Hefny, the prosecutor at Cairo's Qasr al-Nil neighbourhood, previously told Aswat Masriya that the detainees are accused of disrupting traffic, assembling, distributing leaflets, and protesting without a permit.

Egypt's latest protest law has been widely criticised by domestic and international human rights organisations, who say it violates international standards that allow peaceful protests. But many, mostly youth, have been detained and convicted for violating it since its introduction in November 2013.

The clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street erupted on 19 November 2011, and continued for five days. Security forces clashed with protesters opposing the transitional rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in violence that left 50 people dead.

At the time, they were the deadliest clashes since the January 2011 uprising. Their significance was accentuated by the proximity to Egypt's interior ministry headquarters just blocks away.

The protests also witnessed an expanding rift between different groups of protesters, with many criticising the Muslim Brotherhood for abandoning the "revolutionaries" as they were preoccupied with campaigning for parliamentary elections that were held over several months from 2011-2012.

The Brotherhood snapped up 47 percent of seats in Egypt's then-bicameral People's Assembly.

On the anniversary of Mohamed Mahmoud protests last year, 48 protesters were arrested.

This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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