April 6 launches initiative to counter smear campaign

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By Safaa Abdoun

CAIRO: In an effort to combat the ongoing smear campaign against its members, the April 6 Youth Movement launched “Ana Ibreely” (I’m April), a campaign that aims to spread accurate information about the group.

“[We launched the campaign] to counter-fight the smearing of the movement, its leaders, the revolution and the revolutionaries by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and its media,” April 6 said in a statement.

In July, the SCAF signaled out the group, accusing it of driving a wedge between the people and the army. The accusation was reminiscent of previous smear campaigns launched by the regime of ousted president Honsi Mubarak to vilify activists and youth groups involved in the Jan. 25 uprising.

Since then, members of the group have been accused of receiving foreign funding, working to destabilize the country and of serving destructive foreign agendas. Officially, they have not been charged with any of these accusations, despite calling on the prosecution to officially investigate in order to clear their names.

The new campaign kicked off this week with an exhibition at Cairo University on Wednesday, in which the student members answered questions, responded to allegations and explained why the movement has been targeted.

Members supported their words with evidence that included photos and collected statements. They also set up a “Your Opinion” board where people wrote their critique of the movement and gave them advice.

“We will continue working in the community and nothing will keep us from the political sphere. This is our right, which we will not forego regardless of the sacrifices we have to make,” said Engy Hamdy, spokesperson of the movement.

The youth group has also launched a community service project under the title of “The Revolution in Service of the People.” Throughout it, members clean the streets and paint pavements among other activities.

But the smear campaign has had its impact on the budding project. Last week, as members took to the streets of the Zeiton and Sharabya districts, one of its members, Badr Shams, was arrested and briefly detained.

“It is obvious that remnants of the dissolved National Democratic Party and the police are still working on marring the image of the movement,” said Hamdy.

The smear campaign isn’t limited to the group; youth activists and revolutionary movements have faced similar accusations, often being called thugs when protesting.

Ahmed Maher, April 6 founder, previously told DNE that he is “not surprised” at the continuous attempts to tarnish their reputation nor at the youth being sidelined in the political scene.

“We are still in the pre-January 25 mindset. The former regime still hasn’t fallen so it’s not surprising that the youth are not given an opportunity and are not being appreciated,” he said.

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