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Egypt: April 6 youth movement vows to go on despite ban - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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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. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Members of the April 6 movement and liberal activists demonstrate in front of El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo on April 26, 2014. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—The April 6 youth movement has vowed to keep operating after an Egyptian Court on Monday outlawed the group, accusing it of espionage and tarnishing the image of the Egyptian state.

The Court of Urgent Matters banned all activities by the youth movement, which played a significant role in revolutions against former presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Mursi. The court also seized its headquarters and ordered a freeze on April 6’s assets.

The decision came out of lawyer Ashraf Saeed’s lawsuit against the group, which he filed after a privately-run television channel broadcast recordings of April 6 members allegedly plotting against the state.

Although the April 6 Movement supported the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi, they have also criticized the military-backed interim authorities, particularly following the issuance of a controversial Anti-Protest Law. April 6 founders Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel are currently serving a three-year prison sentence after being convicted of violating the Anti-Protest Law. The movement’s followers refuse to apply for permission to hold protests, as required by that law, because they believe free association and peaceful protest are essential human rights.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the April 6 Movement said: “We are determined to complete the path, and we believe that we can go on from where others have stopped and are convinced of our ability and right to change this painful reality.”

The statement stressed that April 6 is more than a movement, but an “idea,” describing it as “an important aspect of this generation’s voice and dream.”

“The group’s main goal is to oppose any action made by the ruling regime which sabotages the state,” the statement added.

The decision to outlaw the group was also criticized by other liberal and left-wing Egyptian parties. The Constitution Party, which is supporting Hamdeen Sabahy’s bid for the presidency in the upcoming elections, described the ban as a “dangerous departure from the July 3 roadmap” that removed Mursi from power. The liberal party said the charges against April 6 are false, criticizing what it viewed as a general crackdown on peaceful political activity in Egypt.

“The rule of law is now as threatened as it was when the Muslim Brotherhood was in power,” the Constitution Party’s statement said.

The Sabahy presidential campaign also criticized the ruling, warning of the “return to a state of suppression.”

Former justice minister Ahmed Mekky also criticized the decision. The Mursi-era minister told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Court of Urgent Matters [which issued the decision] has exceeded its jurisdiction.”

The Cairo Court of Urgent Matters was also responsible for outlawing the Muslim Brotherhood organization in December 2013. Mekky said that this court, which usually hears urgent financial disputes between individuals, is exceeding its jurisdiction in banning political groups.

Mekky criticized “the use of the judiciary to undermine political opponents,” saying it will lead to a lack of public confidence in the judiciary.