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The Black-Mask Gang

Let us come up with a covenant between all the trends, currents and political parties of Egypt. Mastering the art of “finding the common ground” is a must that we can’t live without nowadays!

Nader Bakkar
4 February 2013

Everyone has the right to take to the street on the anniversary of the outbreak of the January 25 revolution to express his or her rejection of mediocre government policies and their distress at the slow progress of the presidential institution.  It is my right, as well as the right of millions of other Egyptians, to beseech the president not to keep falling into the very same mistakes that caused our uprising.  It is our right to tell him not to be a tyrant by imposing his viewpoint on the whole people; but the solution can never be in blowing up the pillars of state at their very bases.

You are mistaken if you listen to the doctrine of Condoleeza Rice that chaos can be creative and apply it in this fashion, or if you imagine that a new regime can realize the aspirations of the masses just by a push of a button!

Those who revolt against injustice should not need to hide their faces out fear, and the people who revolted on the original January 25 never needed to put on masks to hide their identities nor did they need weapons to confront their enemies nor did they need shields to hide behind!  Their uprising was characterized by a spontaneity that was formed by raging anger, the loss of hope and the courage to change a regime that stole, killed, betrayed, crushed and boasted of all this for more than three decades in a row.

Egypt has witnessed the advent of a new group who call themselves the “Black Block” and who spread chaos and practice violence under the pretext of protecting Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood.  I have called them “The Black-Mask Gang” instead of this imported name they chose for themselves, to help us recall the infamous Black-Mask Gang we all read about when we were children in the Mickey Mouse comics. They truly are a comic gang!

What really arouses my disgust at this systematic violence practiced by the “black-mask gang of anarchists”  - youth blocking the underground, taking over the metro stations, attacking local council buildings and other government facilities, cutting off the main roads in the governorates of Egypt, shooting guns off and throwing Molotov cocktails around and all the other scenes of vandalism and anarchy - is their constant justification of violence as if it were a natural reaction to the political or management failure we are inflicted with right now.  This type of behaviour tries to make people sympathize with anarchy and paves the way for more of the same so that we will sooner or later have it as a constant guest in our lives.

So why don’t we just give everything its proper name without any fear or hesitation?

Gentlemen, terrorism is terrorism no matter where it comes from and no matter what system or method it uses. We have to uphold the values of the rule of law because the militia state is by all means the most disastrous option, and would preside over the dismantling of our country into liberalist, Islamist and anarchist gangs.

How can it be that the media handle this case of terrorizing innocent people with kid gloves?  They go out of their way to invite comment from these members of the Black-Mask-Gang who have become so emboldened by the anarchy that has overtaken our country and so encouraged by the poor management of the crisis that they flex their muscles, flash their weapons and issue terrorist statements with impunity.  I can’t help remembering a very similar “disreputable” media ordeal that accompanied the arrest of the notorious Nakhnukh who is accused of killing, drug trafficking and running a gang.  

Frankly speaking the president, Muhammad Morsi, bears the biggest portion of the blame because he could have been far more decisive in dealing with it from the very first day.  I criticized him unreservedly on the day he spoke about the Itihadia events because I truly expected him to announce clearly how he rejects violence no matter from which quarter, and I expected him to take clear actions with the aggressors no matter which party they come from; but he didn’t!

He bears the biggest responsibility because he has thwarted the national dialogue more than once when we all know how vital and urgent it is at this time.  It is really senseless that every time we start a new dialogue we get confronted by the Muslim Brothers stating that the results of the dialogue are “not compulsory”. Will they always keep breaching every commitment they make?  Don’t they realize by now how dangerous it is to keep playing the game of juggling roles between their leaderships?

I have repeatedly criticized those who have been laying siege to the Palace of Itihadia, the Constitutional Court and the Media Production City: because I knew then, along with Al-Nour Party with whom I am affiliated, that the cycle of violence will keep enlarging and then it will evolve into a state of action-and-reaction and no one will be able to stop it then.

The opposition, in turn, bears an ample part of the responsibility by being silent and sluggish in front of this very same phenomenon.  They even support it morally; either implicitly or explicitly!  Their biggest mistake ever will be to think that they can stop this vicious cycle of violence

Running the state at these critical times calls for leaders who are broad-minded and who are able to contain all this without any hesitation or delay. We also need an understanding opposition that can offer realistic solutions, optional programmes and can recognise the scale of its responsibility towards a country almost going down in flames.

Let us come up with a covenant between all the trends, currents and political parties of Egypt.  Something that can accommodate the fact that the differences between us are there and will always be there.  Mastering the art of “finding the common ground” is a must that we can’t live without nowadays! A covenant that can criminalize the escalation of political differences into physical violence, hate speech and the constant attempt to marginalise your opponents; a covenant that can allow us to talk with each other, to argue and to depart as friends, even if we don’t end up agreeing.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


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