CAIRO – In the aftermath of clashes on Friday night to mark the two-year
anniversary of the January 25 Revolution in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, pundits and
politicians focused much attention on a new group of violent
The group calls themselves the “Black Bloc,” possibly in
connection with other black bloc anarchy groups around the world. For the first
time on Friday, teenagers and young people came out in force, dressed
head-to-toe in black, many wearing black balaclava ski masks.
“black bloc” began in Germany in the 1970s with a group of anarchists, and has
been used loosely in a number of other instances since then, including the
anti-World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999 and the G20 summit in
Toronto in 2010.
In Egypt, members of the black bloc refused to speak to
the media. “No one knows anything about them, they appeared three or four days
ago,” said Adel, an Arabic literature teacher who saw them in Tahrir on Friday
for the first time.
“Some people think they are ‘ultras’ but they issued
a statement on Friday saying ‘we’re not ultras, we’re not anyone.’” However,
some wore ski masks with the insignia of the El-Ahly soccer team.
protests in Tahrir Square have taken on a sinister tinge as many of the
demonstrators now wear plastic joker masks frozen in a smile/grimace to avoid
Many seasoned activists dismissed the black blocs as
angry teenagers looking to stir up trouble who will not have a lasting
“We might see a reemergence [in coming protests] but I don’t
expect them to hijack the revolution,” said Adel.
“[Are the black bloc]
anarchist revolutionaries or 18 year olds who live with their moms & wear
black masks thinking life is a video game?” asked one activist sarcastically on