An Egyptian court on Monday banned a pro-democracy movement that helped ignite the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011, judicial sources and the website of the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper said.
The court was ruling on a private lawsuit brought by a lawyer accusing the April 6 movement of "damaging the image of the state" and illegal contact with foreigners, judicial sources said.
April 6 was one of the youth movements that harnessed social media to bring people into the streets for the historic Jan. 25, 2011 protests that led to Mubarak's downfall at the height of the "Arab Spring" uprisings.
Three leading members of April 6 - Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel and Ahmed Douma - were sentenced to three years in prison in December on charges including protesting illegally. Their appeals were rejected in April.
The "Cairo Court for Urgent Matters" that issued Monday's ruling was the same body that last year banned the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement that propelled Mohamed Mursi to the presidency in a 2012 election.
The army-backed authorities have cracked down hard on the opponents since the military deposed Mursi last July after mass protests against his rule.
An Egyptian court intensified that crackdown on Monday by handing down a death sentence on the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and 682 supporters.
Speaking to Daily News Egyp, Khaled Al-Masri, media director for April 6 Youth Movement said “We are an idea, not a company. How would they ban people from assembling in coffee shops, clubs and other places?”
“It is a black era for the Egyptian judiciary,” he added.
Malek Adli, a lawyer at the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, described the move as 'illegal' and a 'joke'.
“Adly Mansour’s system converted the urgent matters court into a national security bureau,” he said, adding “the judiciary has reached rock bottom.”
The April 6 Youth Movement was established 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 on the day of the strike, as well as use social media tools to spread information and awareness.
They also played a key role in forming Tamarod, the organization that called for the June 20, 2013 protests against elected President Mohamed Morsi's leadership, paving the way for the army to oust him.