CAIRO, Egypt, February 20, 2013 – The anniversary of the Egyptian revolution on January 25th saw the birth of a new opposition group, “The Black Bloc.” The mysterious group of young masked men presented themselves as the defenders of the revolution whose aim is to fight the Muslim Brotherhood.
The group appears to have named itself after the European Black Bloc anarchists, known for dressing all in black, wearing masks and often using violence to further their aims.
During the anniversary demonstrations, the Egyptian Black Bloc members surrounded armored police vehicles and waved their hands in “V- for victory” signs.
The government is concerned that such group could spark retaliation by Islamic groups. Islamic supporters of President Morsi called the Black Bloc a “militia” on Facebook and announced the formation of a White Bloc to counter Black Bloc efforts.
The mysterious emergence of the Black Bloc has also raised concerns among the established opposition, unsure of the tactics or goals of the Black Bloc.
On January 28th, the group, which communicates primarily through social media, announced, “We are the black bloc… seeking people’s liberation, the fall of corruption and the toppling of the tyrant, we have arisen to confront the tyrant regime of Muslim Brotherhood.” The video also warned the police not to interfere with its actions.
On February 17, the group claimed responsibility for kidnapping Abdulhalim Hilal and four others on al-Mahaleh-al-Mansoureh road.
While the Black Bloc is causing fear among the established organizations, it is gaining adherents among the young Egyptian protestors, frustrated by the status quo. One of the Tahrir opposition demonstrators noted, “They aren’t terrorists they protect the demonstrators from the brotherhood.”
The group has gained even more backing recently, as it promised Egyptian youth better job opportunities if they participate in acts of chaos and sabotage against the government.
Until the Egyptian government deals with the growing social, political and economic problems in the country, organizations like the Black Bloc will resonate with young people.
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