The 6 April Youth Movement Democratic and Ahmed Maher fronts announced plans Tuesday to appeal the Cairo Court of Urgent Matters Monday ruling to ban the movement’s activities.
The court ruled to ban the activist organisation, which was a vocal player in the 25 January Revolution, for “espionage” and “activities that distort Egypt’s image”. The court also ruled to shut down the movement’s headquarters
In a statement released Tuesday, 6 April (Democratic Front) said the court’s decision is evidence that the activists are taking the correct revolutionary path. The decision, the group said, brought back its members’ revolutionary spirit, including some who had previously quit political activism.
The movement is organising a demonstration Wednesday to protest the court ruling and the Protest Law, and to call for the release of those who have been detained for political expression.
A number of government and human rights representatives have also condemned the ban, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who released a statement Monday expressing disappointment in a judge’s decision to sentence two 6 April founders, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, to three years in prison with hard labour for violating Egypt’s controversial Protest Law.
The United States Department of State also issued a statement Monday criticising the ban on 6 April, saying that such a ruling is “troubling” and opposes basic democratic principles.
The US asked the Egyptian government to allow peaceful political activism “if Egypt’s interim Government intends to transition to democracy, as it has committed itself to do.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, in a Monday statement, accused the “military regime ruling the country since the July 3rd coup” of trying to “crush” peaceful voices of dissent in Egypt.
The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) agreed, saying the ruling limits freedom of expression, and reinforces government control over political activities and public issues.
Banning activities and confiscation of headquarters and funds is not the specialisation of the court, AFTE said in a statement. Using judicial rulings to stop opposition is unjust and unconstitutional, the organisation said, and contributes to the disintegration of the rule of law. AFTE called on the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful political activities, and to amend all articles that limit freedoms of expression and assembly.
Presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahy’s campaign also warned against using the judiciary for political gain. In a statement released Monday, the campaign called the ruling “dangerous” and “undemocratic”, warning of the return of a repressive state.
Al-Dostour Party questioned the legal grounds of the charges. In a statement, the party said the current situation represents a step back from democracy.
The decision is the latest in a series of government moves aimed at repressing dissent, including the Protest Law, and the arresting of peaceful youth on forged charges.
The 6 April Youth Movement was founded in 2008 after organising the largest wave of strikes in the history of Egypt in the industrial town of Mahalla. The movement was officially divided into two fronts in April 2011 because of conflicts over management.