The April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt

Posted: February 1, 2011 in April 6 Youth Movement, Arab people power, Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, Kefaya, Muslim Brotherhood, People power

The protest against Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak is being amped up with a million-man-march planned in a few hours.

The broad opposition coalition, which includes the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and the April 6 Youth Movement, said it will march from Tahrir, or Liberation Square in central Cairo to the Presidential palace to force Mubarak to step down as soon as possible.  A general strike is also being planned.

We know about the Muslim Brotherhood.  In a previous blog entry, we introduced the Egyptian Kefaya.  Today, we talk about the April 6 Group, a grass-roots movement of young people that has been pushing for democratic reforms since 2008.

Who, what is the April 6 Group?

April 6 Youth Movement Facebook profile photo

Again, Wikipedia comes to the rescue.

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The April 6 Youth Movement is an Egyptian Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/shabab6april)  group started by Ahmed Maher in Spring 2008 to support the workers in El-Mahalla El-Kubra, an industrial town, who were planning to strike on April 6.

Activists called on participants to wear black and stay home the day of the strike. Bloggers and citizen journalists used FacebookTwitterFlickr, blogs and other new media tools to report on the strike, alert their networks about police activity, organize legal protection and draw attention to their efforts.

The New York Times has identified the movement as the political Facebook group in Egypt with the most dynamic debates. As of January 2009, it had 70,000 predominantly young and educated members, most of whom had not been politically active before; their core concerns include free speechnepotism in government and the country’s stagnant economy. Their discussion forum on Facebook features intense and heated discussions, and is constantly updated with new postings.

The April 6 movement is using the same symbols as the Otpor! movement from Serbia, that helped bring down the regime of Slobodan Milosevic and whose tactics were later used in Ukraine andGeorgia.

Aside from discussing the state of the nation online, members of the group have organized public rallies to free imprisoned journalists and engaged in protests concerning the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict. In its official pronouncements, the group stresses that it is not a political party. Ahmed Maher the founders of the group, were arrested by the Egyptian authorities in May 2008 in an attempt to shut it down.

In July 2008, Maher was again arrested, along with 14 other members of the group, and charged with “incitement against the regime”. He also claimed that Egyptian state security officers threatened to rape him in custody.

On April 6, 2009 the group was subjected to attacks, suspected to have been orchestrated by the Egyptian government. Several websites supporting the group were hacked simultaneously, and protests in Cairo were confronted by plain clothed Egyptian policemen and numerous arrests.

On January 29th, 2011 a WikiLeaks document was revealed to show how the United States actively supported efforts for regime change in Egypt. On January 31, 2011 the movement promoted participation of at least a million in a march on Tuesday, February 1, 2011.

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Let’s see what happens with the million-man march.  Thanks to Al Jazeera live, now available on YouTube, we can do so.

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