- Title: EGYPT: Egypt activist group says will not be affected by court ban
- Date: 28th April 2014
- Summary: CAIRO, EGYPT (FILE - FEBRUARY 11, 2011) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS IN TAHRIR SQUARE DURING ANTI-MUBARAK UPRISING
- Embargoed: 13th May 2014 13:00
- Location: Egypt
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: Legal System,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVADKN08TA8U5GSYYI19Z167OASO
- Story Text: An Egyptian activist group instrumental in the downfall of former president Hosni Mubarak has reacted defiantly on Monday (April 28) to a court ruling banning it, with a member of the group saying the ruling will not stop the group's activities.
A court on Monday banned the pro-democracy 6th of April Youth movement that helped ignite the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The court was ruling on a private lawsuit brought by a lawyer accusing the April 6 movement of "damaging the image of the state" and illegal contact with foreigners.
April 6 was one of the youth movements that harnessed social media to bring people into the streets for the historic Jan. 25, 2011 protests that led to Mubarak's downfall at the height of the "Arab Spring" uprisings.
Three leading members of April 6 - Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel and Ahmed Douma - were sentenced to three years in prison in December on charges including protesting illegally. Their appeals were rejected in April.
A member of the group's political committee, Mohamed Yousef, said today that the ruling was intended to silence the movement ahead of presidential elections at the end of May widely expected to be won by former Defense Chief, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
"There is a comprehensive target at this stage that before a president takes office - and there is an over 90 percent likelihood it will be Abdel Fattah al-Sisi -- everyone who is able to open their mouth against tyranny and despotism in the future, has to be silenced now. So therefore they have begun with those who had a principal and active role in January 25th [the anti-Mubarak uprising], at the heart of which, and on the frontline of which was the 6th of April movement, the movement that had calld for January 25th and which lost many of its members during the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, without whose spilled blood there would not have been June 30th [the anti-Brotherhood protests]," he said.
Al-Sisi was the head of the armed forces when elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi was toppled by the army in July following mass protests against him.
The Court that issued Monday's ruling was the same body that last year banned the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that propelled Mohamed Mursi to the presidency in a 2012 election.
April 6th member Yousef, said that the courts have been politicised and the group would not accept today's decision, which was reportedly made by a judicial panel in a closed session. .
"It's a political ruling of the first order that we do not accept as legal, just as we did not accept many previous rulings where the authorities used the judiciary basically to persecute all of the opposition and silence the voice of right in this country," he said.
Rights advocates and the government's opponents have accused the military backed interim government of widespread abuses since Mursi's ousting. Thousands of Brotherhood members including the group's top leadership have been arrested and put on trial and over 1,500 pro-Mursi protesters killed.
Liberal activists have also been targetted and prosecuted under a controversial law restricting the right to protest.
Today's court ruling will not have a practical effect on April 6th's activities, said Yousef, who has been a member of the group for four years.
"This is a decision only on paper that will not stop the activities of 6th of April. To the contrary tomorrow we will be in the street to tell them that this banned group is only banned in your imagination and in your dreams. This ruling will not stop the members of the movement from demonstrating, will not stop them saying what they believe, will not stop us standing up to any despot however powerful he might be and however many institutions he can control to push his ideas through. Anyway, this is a decision only on paper," he said.
An Egyptian court intensified the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood on Monday by handing down a death sentence on the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and 682 supporters.
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