Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat referred Monday leading members of the political movement Al-Bedaya to the Homeland Security Prosecution for investigation.
The procedure took place after controversial lawyer Samir Sabry filed a lawsuit against the members, arguing that they insulted the Egyptian state, and “supported terrorism”. The defendants include former parliament member Ziad Al-Alimy, prominent activist Asmaa Mahfouz, and writer Tamer Abou Arab.
Sabry said that “Egyptian law does not acknowledge ‘movements’, which makes Al-Bedaya illegal”. He argued that the members appeared on satellite TV and attacked the current regime and the Egyptian state.
One of the members, Sherif Badr, was hosted by TV presenter Wael Al-Ibrashi Sunday on private Channel Dream 2. Badr said that it is not logical for Egypt after four years of unrest to “switch between religious fascism and military fascism”. He added that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a terrorist group, and that all militant attacks were done by the Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, now known as “State of Sinai”.
Sabry is an Egyptian lawyer who has been filing lawsuits against different movements and personnel, in favour of a more nationalistic agenda. He is involved in cases accusing the Palestinian Hamas movement of supporting terrorism, a number of cases against university professors known for Brotherhood affiliations, a case demanding the banning Brotherhood members from practicing politics, other cases demanding the designation of Turkey as a “country supporting terrorism”.
Another argument Sabry used in his lawsuit was that, in addition to being an illegal group, it can be considered an aide to a terrorist group.
Since the lawsuit was filed after the group appeared on TV, Mahmoud Al-Sakka, a member of the movement accused TV presenter Al-Ibrashi of “setting them up”. He also accused Al-Ibrashi of not giving them enough space to comment on the accusation during the programme.
He also denied any connection with the Muslim Brotherhood, adding that many of the members were against the Brotherhood in the mass 30 June protests.
In a recent development, opposition group 6 April denounced the referral of Al-Bedaya to prosecution.
6 April, which is also being prosecuted in Egyptian courts, said that “prosecuting political groups gives way for militant groups to perform, which will attract more Egyptians to secret political work”.
Al-Bedaya posted an online petition calling for members, stating its goals which ranged from: the acquittal of all of “prisoners of conscience”; cancelling the “flawed” Protest Law; restructuring the police apparatus; and ensuring the implementation of more law that enhance social justice.
The group argues that they are not leaders, but rather a tool of contact between youth “following an obvious return of the corrupt regime with the youth had previously confronted”. It adds that “oppression is becoming the norm, to an extent that torture became systematic method used by security forces”.
Since its creation, Al-Bedaya has been criticised and described as “traitors” and “an offshoot of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood group”. They were also attacked by Islamists, who accused them to be a puppet to “attract the anger of the youth”.
Last February, the Egyptian state passed a new law titled “terrorist entities” that allow for the dissolution of these entities and ending their activities.
The law consists of 10 articles. Article 1 defines a terrorist entity as any group “practicing or intending to advocate by any means to disturb public order or endanger the safety of the community and its interests or risk its security or harm national unity”.
After the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, many political groups and parties known of opposing the current regime, were either outlawed like the football fan groups known as ultras, or declared a “terrorist group” such as the Muslim Brotherhood.