‘Graffiti detainees’ released from custody on LE10,000 bail

After being arrested for creating a graffiti tribute to a detained friend, four April 6 Youth Movement members were released from custody on Thursday on LE10,000 bail, reported the Front to Defend Alexandria Protesters’ official Facebook page.

The activists were arrested in Alexandria on Tuesday on charges of vandalizing public property and belonging to a banned organization. The revolutionary youth movement was outlawed by a Cairo court last year.

Brushes and bottles filled with paints were confiscated at the time of their arrest, reported the group.

However, a statement issued by the Alexandria Security Directorate claimed the four activists confessed that they belonged to the banned Muslim Brotherhood organization, and were painting offensive statements against the police and Armed Forces.

The arrest was part of the Interior Ministry’s efforts to “widen the circles of criminal and political suspicion,” the statement alleged.

Social media users outraged by the arrests had called for the activists’ release, referring to them as “the graffiti detainees.”

On Wednesday, 10 members of the same group were also released from custody on LE1,000 bail. They were arrested on Tuesday on charges of illegal assembly when they gathered to commemorate the first anniversary of fellow member Ahmed al-Masry’s death.

Masry was shot last year while photographing the violent dispersal of the Nahda Square sit-in, and died from his injures two weeks later on September 1, 2013.

Zizo Abdo, a leading April 6 member, told Mada Masr that approximately 50 people had gathered in Cairo’s Bulaq neighborhood to attend the memorial at Masry’s home when plainclothes police officers accosted the group, arresting 10 of the attendees. They were then taken to a Central Security Forces camp.

The detainees face charges of illegal assembly, blocking the roads, protesting without a permit and illegal use of fireworks, Abdo said. He pointed out that these are typical charges levied against activists.

“There is an obviously arbitrary crackdown on the youth in general, which has become clear in the last year,” Abdo said.

The April 6 Youth Movement has been subject to increasingly repressive state measures throughout the last year, along with other opposition movements, human rights organizations and NGOs.

The group had been a staunch opponent of the interim government that assumed power after former President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster last year. In December 2013, the Court of Urgent Affairs outlawed the movement on the grounds that it purportedly received foreign funding to sow discord in Egypt and was tarnishing the country’s image abroad.

Leading members Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, along with other activists, were arrested in November for violating the Protest Law.

“April 6 had been an opposition voice throughout last year and are still present in the street,” Abdo said. “They think that these blows will break the movement and stop the youth, but it actually makes them more determined to keep going.”

AD