I suppose it was inevitable. Two years ago, Egyptian youths captured our attention and, for a short time, became the world’s darlings. In the years that followed, though, they were sold out by the military, the parties, the west and most of all, the Muslim Brotherhood who now rule the country. Their revolution had become nothing but a regime change, and they had every reason to be angry.
As the world watched the revolts in Egypt, similar actions began to break out from New York to Hong Kong. Egyptians watched these too, and played close attention. From Athens to Oakland, one group/tactic must have stood out…
As the second anniversary of the revolution approached, something very different emerged on the streets of Egypt. Large groups of masked, black-clad youths began to appear, holding demonstrations, blocking railways, storming government buildings and unleashing a hail of molotovs onto the offices of the Brotherhood. Enter the Egyptian Black Bloc.
News so far has been extremely sketchy, and it seems most of the world’s media still doesn’t know what to make of them. Bloc participants have said very little to the press other than to identify themselves as anarchists and refuse pictures or interviews (good choice). Instead, YouTube video was released a few days ago, introducing the movement with a dramatic soundtrack, riot porn and plenty of Fawkes-masks.
Anarchism in Egypt, is of course nothing new. The first records
date back at least to the 1870s when the country became home to Errico Malatesta and other Mediterranean anarchists (often exiles), who soon became involved in the nascent Egyptian labour movement. More recently, anarchists played a small but notable role in the Tahrir square protests, as did the “ultras”, militant football fans (often with
radical politics) who did much of the front-line streetfighting.
At this point, it’s still hard to tell much about this mysterious movement. Is it a backlash against the increasingly repressive governance of the Muslim Brotherhood? The latest fashion statement by rebellions football hooligans? Or could it be the beginning of something else?
Egyptian Anarchist Movement Emerges with Wave of Firebombings and Street Fights – If Your Voice Shakes (Ryan Harvey’s blog)
A Black Bloc Emerges in Egypt – NYT Blogs.