Black Bloc activists create panic among Egypt's rulers and religious fundamentalists. Photo: Private.
Modkraft.dk- 7. February 2013
By Rune Eltard-Sørensen - Translated by Cirkeline
Islamists requires death penalty for anarchist-inspired black block protesters, while the authorities have found terrorist clauses rather than opening up to a growing revolt against the Egyptian government.
18 people were on Tuesday 29 January arrested in Egypt for belonging to a left radical network that goes under the name 'Black Bloc' - a term used for black-bloc, militant demonstrators.
The country's attorney general has also issued an arrest warrant for anyone with a connection to the anarchist-inspired protest movement and announced that it will try to get the activists convicted for belonging to a "terrorist organization".
Authorities offensive comes after black-bloc and masked protesters four days earlier used the two year anniversary of the popular uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak to block traffic and attacking the presidential palace with stones and firebombs.
Watch news report on the protests on 25 January.
Islamists: "Cut the hands of them"
Arrests of black-bloc protesters was the very next day met with protests in front of the court in the capital Cairo.
Four more people was arrested when they were on their way to the courthouse - they are also accused of belonging to Black Bloc.
Police have told the local media that at least one of the arrested protesters allegedly is connected to Israel.
The claim is rejected by Israeli authorities as "nonsense" and there is no evidence to support the charge, which critics have said is an attempt to turn the public against the detainees.
The ruling party, the Muslim Brotherhood has also appointed the members of the parliamentary opposition as the real masterminds of the riots.
And way out in the the religious right you will hear downright demands for the death penalty for the leftist rioters:
- God commands us to kill, crucify or cut the hands and feet of those who spread the misfortune on the ground, says Mufti Abdel Akhar Hammad from the Islamist group Jama'a al-Islamiya according to the newspaper Egypt Idependent.
State of emergency and torture
The violent reactions of the relatively few black-bloc demonstrators coincides with a growing criticism of President Mohamed Mursi, also from the Muslim Brotherhood and the liberal opposition in the media.
The adoption of a new constitution with strong religious undertones last year has created divisions in the already troubled country.
Watch the feature "Inside Story - The state of Egypt's revolution 'by Al Jazeera.
There has been declared a state of emergency and imposed partial curfew in three cities along the Suez Canal, where there have been recurrent protests against the government.
Several demonstrators and dissidents in recent weeks have died in clashes with the police or in custody.
Recently, anonymous sources in the security services confirmed to news agency Reuters, a member of the left-wing party Popular CurrentVersion have been tortured to death by police after he was arrested during a demonstration on 25 January.
It's about self-defense
While those in power are trying to exploit the unrest to their advantage, and the mass media often refers to the black bloc as a group with unclear objectives, support for the new phenomenon is growing in social media and among Egypt's large community of football fans.
'Black Bloc'-support groups on Facebook have tens of thousands of fans, and on YouTube there have been published several videos that celebrates the movement.
In the videos black-and-red flags with the anarchist logo - Circle A - are used and there is an unreserved criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood, described as 'fascist'.
Video about Egypts Black Bloc
In an interview with the magazine Vice one activist says, the movement has occurred after clashes with the Muslim Brotherhood gangs of thugs in front of the presidential palace in December last year where several was killed.
'Black Bloc', according to activists themselves is a defence mechanism - both for the citizens who want to continue to walk the streets and for the 'revolution' itself.
- After the incident in front of palace it dawned on us that the Brotherhood is very well organized. Therefore, we have to organize ourselves. Basically it's about protecting the revolutionaries, explains the anonymous activist.
Hooligans against the government
The movement's activities extend far beyond defending demonstrations.
A faction calling itself 'Black Blocairo, The Hooligans' has taken responsibility for arson attacks against several of the ruling party's offices in late January.
The reference to the hooligan culture are not surprising given that the country's football fans played a very active role during the revolution two years ago.
The flowering of Black Bloc in Egypt coincides with the many football fans that recently have been sentenced to death for their role in a violent mass brawl at a football game last year, which killed several people.
Other parts of the protest movement uses at the same time references to the international hacker network Anonymous - whose symbol Guy Fawkes mask, appears in several videos.
While 'The black block' are new in Egypt, the movement pulls from a long history dating back to the 1970s and 80s squatters and autonomous in Germany and other countries.
Then, as now, it's purely low-practice that militant street activists want to protect themselves with masking and uniform black clothing to prevent arrest, prosecution and recognition in the press.
Furthermore the ability to act as a group, signals strength to his 'opponent' and protects a demonstration and individual participants against harassment by police.
At the political level black block protesters typical argues for a radical non-parliamentary and anti-authoritarian approach, which is reflected in the form of actions against symbols of capitalism and the state.
The concept had an international comeback in connection with the protests against the international summits in the U.S. and Europe around the millennium and is used today in more or less all over the world.