Egypt’s Black Bloc grew out of their struggle for liberation from an authoritarian system, only after non-violent civil efforts had failed. Ironically, the U.S. Black Bloc and Egypt’s Black Bloc are on opposite sides of the political struggle — one, in the U.S., a friend to the Muslim Brotherhood and doubtless trying to gain prestige through their nominal association with international fighters; the other, in Egypt, an enemy to the Brotherhood, and fighting for democracy and legitimate government.
Clad in black, faceless in black ski masks, the nameless Black Bloc soldiers lock arms to create a human shield in defense of pro-freedom protesters – the Black Bloc’s number-one priority – in the streets and squares of Egypt. Expert in martial arts and ostensibly military-trained, Black Bloc warriors only recently surfaced in Egypt to safeguard fellow freedom-fighters from their arch-enemies, the foes of democracy: President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas militia.
Originating out of a plan to protect women protesters from sexual assault, this huge band of men and women numbering in the thousands (the exact number is not known) form a dedicated and determined corps of combatants divided into local groups of 30-50 individuals in Egypt’s communities. Self-described as “anti-Muslim-Brotherhood,” and generated out of disgust toward years of police and military brutality, the Black Bloc is, for modern Egypt, a completely new phenomenon.
As participants in this well-organized system for safety and preservation, the secret members of the “elite” Black Bloc guard first appeared in the streets of Cairo this January, when revolutionaries commemorated their two-year anniversary with protests in Tahrir Square. Now everywhere the Egyptian opposition stages protests, the rank-and-file Black Bloc, whose leaders remain unknown to them, dutifully move in to police the area on behalf of fellow protesters.
Deemed “terrorists” and “outlaws” by the Morsi regime, the shadowy Zorro-like heroes refer to their network as the “United Ghosts Revolution” and represent a just cause in the ongoing rebellion against Egypt’s Islamist government. The Black Bloc mission is to ensure that no more assaults, kidnappings, and torture occur from Morsi’s security forces [the Muslim Brotherhood militia] and so-called law enforcement, and that a “camel gazwa,” [invading crowds on galloping camels] as in the early days of the revolt, never takes place again. Many Black Bloc members carry firearms, most likely acquired through the illegal networks smuggling weapons from Libya and Gaza.
If the best defense is a good offense, the forceful Black Bloc has aggressively expanded its scope beyond the scene of gathered protesters and their protection. With a physical presence in more than eight cities across Egypt, the anonymous soldiers have claimed responsibility for ransacking at least eight separate Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party offices.
At first, the shrouded Black Bloc raised the fears; the public saw them as terrorists. This wrong impression, however, was soon dispelled as their image as guardians took shape. Appearing first in the social media, the Black Bloc now has the moral support of more than 57,000 …read more