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 protesters. 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.
The term 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.