Egypt's April 6: Still a political force to be reckoned with?

Analysis, posted 04.24.2013, from Egypt, in:
Egypt's April 6: Still a political force to be reckoned with? (Photo: Al Ahram)

In the spring of 2008, the April 6 youth movement burst onto Egypt's political scene. Five years and a historic uprising later, political observers say the group no longer wields the same influence – due to a combination of political inexperience, internecine fissures, and an over-reliance on street mobilisation.

"April 6 remains an important force on Egypt's political stage, but street protests are only effective – in the current political context – if they can succeed in drawing hundreds of thousands," political science professor Tarek Fahmy told Ahram Online.

Notably, on the occasion of its five-year anniversary earlier this month, the group failed to stage a hoped-for million-man rally. "Taking this as an indication," Fahmy said, "April 6 should consider other means besides street protests to achieve their objectives."

April 6 first emerged as a Facebook group, established by a handful of young activists in the spring of 2008 as a means of voicing support for a massive labour strike in Egypt's industrial city of Mahalla. The strike would go down in history as the largest-ever labour action to take place under the Mubarak regime's security state.

The Facebook group quickly drew some 100,000 members to its cause. In the strike's aftermath, the online solidarity group – which took its name from the date of a seminal workers' protest – emerged as a political force to be reckoned with.

In the run-up to Egypt's 2011 Tahrir Square uprising, the Mubarak regime attempted to suppress and intimidate the group with the use of arrests and smear campaigns. Nevertheless, April 6 managed to be a primary organiser of the anti-regime demonstrations that erupted on 25 January and which ultimately culminated in Mubarak's departure.

In the wake of the 18-day uprising, the movement achieved international prominence as a primary factor in the revolution's success.

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By Nada Hussein Rashwan

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