A court in Egypt rejected the appeal of three April 6 protesters. Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel, and Ahmed Douma, the co-founders of the April 6 movement, were found guilty of violating a controversial anti-protests law initiated by the current government. After their appeal was rejected by an Egyptian court, the men will each serve a three-year sentence.
Monday’s Egyptian court ruling amplified the rifts between the army-backed government and the Egyptian public. The April 6 opposition movement continues its demand for a freely elected government that represents the people.
Members of the interim government insisted that after years of unrest, they needed to maintain order throughout the country. The best way of doing that was to prohibit unauthorized demonstrations.
April 6, supporters have called for an unauthorized open sit-in outside the presidential palace in Cairo. The group demands the current government should retract the anti-protesting law and the overturning of the court’s decision against Maher, Adel, and Douma.
Both liberal and Islamist groups in Egypt believe the current government has implemented plans to reconstitute the former police state that has controlled Egypt for decades. The anti-protesting law has served as only a pretext to crackdown on protesters and arrest dissidents arbitrarily.
Ahmed Seif al-Islam, a defense lawyer, plans to challenge the ruling. He believes a new hearing could take months, and will continue his efforts to overturn the ruling. Should that effort fail, he will try presenting his case to the African Court on Human and People’s Rights.
Hamdeen Sabbahi, a presidential hopeful in the upcoming May election, called on interim President Adli Mansour to grant amnesty to the three men. Sabbahi considered it unacceptable for the three April 6 co-founders to be incarcerated over an unjust law, while the real lawbreakers who corrupted Egypt maintain their liberty.
Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights’ Watch, called Monday’s verdict another nail in Egypt’s revolutionary coffin. Here was a chance for the court to overrule the government’s unjust attempt for people to openly dissent.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, director of Amnesty International for the Middle East and North Africa, supported on the immediate release of the April 6 activists. The men should have never been put on trial, and are no more than political prisoners of conscience. Sahraoui called for their unconditional and immediate release.
On Sunday, the April 6 movement celebrated its sixth anniversary. The organization spearheaded the 18 day uprising that toppled Mubarak’s government. They joined in the opposition against Egyptian generals, who assumed power for the last 17 months. Their mass protests helped lead the way to Egypt’s first presidential election.
The movement gave its support to Morsi, and then became disillusioned with his policies once he became president. Once again, taking to the streets, April 6 supported Morsi’s military ouster from office in July 2013. Now they have denounced the current government that instituted unjust laws against unauthorized protests. Local media has called the April 6 movement a treasonous organization with foreign links. The Egyptian court that rejected the appeal of three April 6 protesters, will now face growing opposition to the verdict.
By Brian T. Yates