Saturday,18 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1146, 2 - 8 May 2013
Saturday,18 August, 2018
Issue 1146, 2 - 8 May 2013

Ahram Weekly

Social media

Black Bloc polemic

The trial of members of the so-called Black Bloc (BB) group has dominated social networks over the last week. The legitimacy of establishing such a group in Egypt and whether it promotes violence among the “non-Islamist” youth supporters was at the top of debates.

The group of masked young protesters has been linked to violent attacks on public and private properties. The Bloc members present themselves as the defenders of protesters opposed to President Mohamed Morsi’s rule.

Earlier in April, Egyptian Prosecutor-General Talaat Ibrahim ordered the detention of 22 suspected Black Bloc members accused of funding the mysterious group.

Mona Mahmoud believes that the BB is giving “the Egyptian youth, who took to the streets nationwide to take down Mubarak’s regime peacefully, an excuse to turn violent and stop believing in democracy, which the Egyptian historic revolution is about.”

However, she thinks that the existence of such a group is delivering a strong message to the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists that “they are not the only faction in society who can use violence.” Mahmoud was referring to repeated threats made by Islamist leaders, such as Assem Abdel-Maged and Tarek Al-Zomor, the leaders of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, who said in December last year that Islamists could announce “armed Jihad” against the secular opposition to protect the legitimacy of President Mohamed Morsi.

“So if you bring in violence it will be faced with violence. Just stop being naïve; Egypt is larger than you expected and more complicated than you can imagine,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

Meanwhile, some people are rejecting the group totally and are supporters of putting them on trial, such as Ali Khattab, who said, “the BB are nothing but cowardly thugs anyway, they cannot even show their faces. They are a disgrace to the revolution and Egypt’s martyrs. I support holding them accountable to the crimes they have committed.” He added that this was the moment in which we have to promote the rule of law by holding the BB accountable for their actions.

Wael Ashraf responded to Khattab by saying that the BB has not committed any violence and that they were just trying to protect opposition protests from the “Muslim Brotherhood thugs.” The Muslim Brotherhood “are promoting that the BB are behind all the violence spread across the country while the Islamist thugs are responsible for that,” he said.

State of denial

Issandr Al-Amrani wrote in his blog, The Arabist, about the chaos that dominates the media landscape in Egypt. Here is what he wrote:

“I used to joke that Egyptians have their own reality distortion field, which, once entered, can lead you to believe that their country is at the centre of the universe and where everything is black and white, the patently untrue is branded as incontrovertible fact, and a person will assure you of one thing when its opposite is plain to see in front of your very eyes.

In the current media scene, the Egyptian reality distortion field has multiplied into (at least) two views of reality: one in which the Muslim Brotherhood is a saviour that will guide the country to a renaissance and Mohamed Morsi is geopolitical genius; another in which an Iranian-Israeli-American plot to install the Brotherhood threatens to unravel the country. The latter discourse is more shrill and insane, perhaps due to the fact that Islamists control a small minority of the print media in the country, that their numerous satellite channels have less compelling non-religious programming and that their normal discourse is bizarre and nasty enough for the propaganda to be relatively tame. The two worlds co-exist and occasionally collide, a bit like the sci-fi show, Fringe.

The latest salvo in a string of completely over-the-top anti-MB news “stories” this month is the allegation that State Security recorded conversations between Hamas and MB leaders during the 2011 uprising that showed Hamas had an operational around Tahrir Square. These recordings were recently presented to MB strongman Khairat Al-Shater, the story goes. Leading anti-MB commentators are already calling it treason. It’s not that some Hamas-MB contact during the uprising is unlikely, but the way this story has been spun goes far beyond that.

This comes after a month of stories such as the claim that Morsi has promised Sudan to return the Halayeb Triangle, continuous allegations that the MB is planning to get rid of Minister of Defence Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, recurrent claims of an MB plot to settle Sinai with Palestinians and much more of the sort. One might put it down to anti-MB hysteria, but what it really amounts to is a sustained campaign of destabilisation via the private media, probably instigated by security agencies. It is becoming a very tiresome feature of the media-political landscape of Egypt, one that keeps the country constantly on edge.


“The MB always talk of the opposition’s conspiracy against them to make them fail, which apparently includes members of Morsi’s core team.”



“The only rational reason for Morsi adviser Essam Al-Haddad to visit Iran is that he needs a year’s supply of excellent pistachios.” @Salama Moussa

“The two biggest misconceptions about the MB pre-2011 was that it was democratic and that it had sufficient technical skills to govern.” @Ahmed Mahmoud


“Tahrir has led to an explosion of activism and community engagement. But Tahrir has also exposed the weaknesses in the current model of organising.”

@Alaa Abdel-Fattah

“Egypt’s King Farouk’s turtle dies at 270 years. It survived through Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak, but not Morsi.” @Hassan Hassan


“It is a sad day for free speech and journalism in Egypt after the closure of Egypt Independent.” @Hadeel Al-Shalchi


“The funny thing is that the US doesn’t realise it’s the one being swindled by the Muslim Brotherhood.” @Wael Eskandar


“The Muslim Brotherhood are using dirty politics manipulating religion to consolidate their power, because they have no qualifications to run Egypt.”



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