Egypt's April 6 movement: we are not going away

Egypt's April 6 movement: we are not going away
4 min read
06 Apr, 2015
Comment: Rights movement continues to fight for its objectives and peacefully oppose injustice, says Ahmed Maher, one of group's founders.
Ahmed Maher is one of the founders of the 6 April Movement [Getty]
April 6 is the anniversary of Egypt's 2008 general strike, which was sparked by workers protesting at al-Mahalla and al-Kubra textile factories.

The general strike quickly turned it into a broad nationwide protest movement organised by young people, using social media networks such as Facebook. As a result, the April 6 movement was founded.

Since 2008, the youths that organised the protests have found themselves in conflict with subsequent regimes in Egypt. They have been subjected to crackdowns, arrests, harassment, and even torture. They later played a large role in launching Egypt's 25 January 2011 revolution.

Have things changed seven years after the April 6 movement was founded? Has the repression stopped or grown worse? Did the conflict with Egypt's ruling regime end after the 25 January 2011 revolution, or the overthrow of former president Mohammad Morsi on 3 July 2013? Has the movement obtained legal status, and been able to operate within Egyptian law?

Unfortunately, the struggle with the different regimes governing Egypt did not end after Mubarak resigned on 11 February 2011. Initially things calmed down, but they quickly intensified again. This was because it soon became clear the transitional regime of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) that replaced Mubarak, was merely an extension of the former president's corrupt and repressive regime. SCAF refused any demands for unity or reform.

Although millions took place in protests against the transitional regime, SCAF singled out the movement for attack. Brigadier General Mahmoud al-Ruwaini, a member of SCAF, launched a media campaign falsely accusing the movement of being a foreign agent.
     As long as there is dictatorship, tyranny and corruption, there must be conflict.

There was a short period of calm after Morsi became president on 20 June 2012. However, the Muslim Brotherhood made an increasing number of mistakes, and after it issued a flawed constitution the movement was forced to protest again. The Muslim Brotherhood accused the movement of treason and defamed it in the media because it allied itself with the opposition.

What about now? Has authoritarianism ended? Has the struggle between the movement and those in authority ended?

Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated as the struggle with the current regime has intensified. The movement continues to fight for its goals - to achieve a modern civil democratic state that supports democratic transition and defends human rights. However, the regime of Egypt's current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, opposes these values. Instead, Sisi has been using the so-called war on terrorism to further consolidate his power, and continue his repressive, authoritarian, and corrupt rule.

The movement has opposed all forms of violence since day one, and it needs to continue its peaceful struggle against the authorities. Its demands are for social justice, a social market economy, an increase in social services, social democracy, and social, political and economic human rights. It also asks for an increase in state spending on health and education, and levels of taxation that are proportional to wealth.

Sisi has rejected these demands, and his policies are an extension of those that started the 25 January revolution.

The current president has reinstated the nepotistic capitalism and corrupt practices seen under Mubarak. The only difference between Mubarak and Sisi is that the latter has merged the capitalism of the army with nepotistic capitalism of favoured businessmen. The only difference felt by the average citizen is greater corruption, appropriation, tyranny, and repression.

The wealth of a small elite favoured by the military establishment has grown due to their hypocrisy and loyalty to the military establishment.

Finally, the security institutions currently governing Egypt hold a vendetta against the movement and would like it to be eradicated. They have imprisoned its members, outlawed its protests, defamed it and even dissolved the legal social organisation formed by the movement for social development.

Unfortunately, it is our fate to be engaged in a struggle all our lives. As long as there is dictatorship, tyranny and corruption, there must be conflict.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.