Cairo: A group calling themselves the Black Bloc movement has vowed to abandon violence during demonstrations planned to be staged on June 30 to withdraw confidence from President Mohammad Mursi and hold early presidential elections.
The Black Bloc demonstrators, hooded and masked and dressed in black from head to toe, appeared last January in Cairo and other provinces.
They present themselves as the defenders of protesters opposed to Mursi’s rule. On their Facebook page, the activists say they are a “generation born of the blood of the martyrs” from the 2011 revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.
“We decided to abandon using Molotov cocktails and stop our operations against the Muslim Brotherhood,” a statement posted on their page on Thursday said.
The statement added that Black Bloc youth will participate in the Tamarod “Rebellion” campaign.
“We will gain victory using our bodies, not Molotov. We will form human shields to protect revolutionaries against violence tactics of Brotherhood,” the statement reads.
Black bloc members said they will join all the revolutionary powers to save Egypt, topple Brotherhood Regime and regain Egypt’s people revolution.
“All demonstrations on June 30 will be peaceful, unless Brotherhood militias use violence. They may be able to terrorise citizens but cannot win on 30 June,” Bishoy Raafat, a co-founder of Mina Daniel Movement, named after a young activist killed during Maspero massacre October 2011, told Gulf News.
Raafat added that President Mursi vowed last January to crack down on the Black Bloc. General Prosecutor Talaat Abdullah ordered police, army officers and the public to arrest anyone suspected of being members and accused them of being an “organised group that participates in terrorist acts”.
The Egyptian authorities arrested 25 rioters on Saturday, after they attacked security forces and private cars, security sources said.
Clashes broke out on Friday evening between members of the Black Bloc movement and central security forces at Shepheard Hotel near the US embassy.
A group of unidentified youths and members of the Black Bloc hurled stones and empty bottles at security forces who in turn tear-gassed the protesters and forced them to retreat back to Qasr Al Nil Bridge.
On May 13, a Cairo court quashed the convictions of six men accused of attacking police and damaging property during protests against President Mursi and freed them.
The ruling issued earlier that month against the men, aged 19 to 25, was the first dealing with Black Bloc movement which the Islamist-led government has accused of participating in “terrorist acts”.
One of the lawyers representing the men, said the case lacked legal foundation from start to finish. He portrayed the reversal of the ruling as evidence the charges were baseless, and accused the Muslim Brotherhood of using legal organs to marginalise liberal and secular critics.
— The writer is a journalist based in Cairo.