CAIRO, Egypt -- On his blog Wednesday, the Council on Foreign Relation's Steven Cook revealed that a founder of the April 6 youth movement in Egypt, Ahmed Maher, is working with a Beverly Hills public relations company. Although the company appears to be donating its work, Cook speculates that April 6 will look out of touch, vainly self-promotional, or even tainted as too tied to foreign interests.
In fact, such accusations have been levied at Maher, a dedicated movement activist whose early work in 2008 to organize striking textile workers was a pivotal step in Egypt's path to revolution. April 6 has become a formidable movement with lots of grassroots urban activists. They've had street muscle and staying power since January, and often appear more in touch with mainstream Egyptian public opinion than other revolutionary activists, who can come across as overly intellectual and even, at times, as elitist. Maher was featured in a PBS Frontline documentary, and has been one of the revolution's media stars.
In the last few months, a rift emerged between Maher's circle and other April 6 leaders. The movement now has effectively split, although there hasn't been a public announcement of it and both factions use similar logos and names. The breakaway faction, which calls itself the April 6 Movement and is prioritizing protest and political mobilization, appears by far larger. "There was no internal democracy," said Tarek El-Khouly, one of the leaders. "There was no transparency. [Ahmed Maher] wouldn't tell us if he was getting foreign funds."