Suspect Device

Writing by Patrick Keddie

Egypt’s Ultras: ‘We don’t believe in state justice’

Egyptian football [AP]

Sunday’s tragic events should be seen in the context of a widespread crackdown on dissent in Egypt, analysts say.

For Mohamed*, a 23-year-old member of Ultras White Knights (UWK) – a hardcore group of football fans that support Cairo-based Zamalek Sporting Club – Sunday started with a sense of excitement.

For the first time in over three years – since the February 2012 Port Said disaster in which 74 al-Ahly fans died – spectators were allowed to attend an Egyptian Premier League match.

Yet, Sunday turned into another day of tragedy as at least 19 Zamalek fans died following clashes with the security forces outside the stadium. The deaths are likely to trigger further unrest.

“We will take our revenge as we know the government won’t take any action, except to announce the opening of an investigation that will lead to nothing,” said Mohamed.

A large number of fans had turned up at the Air Force Stadium in Cairo hoping to gain entry into the match between Zamalek SC and ENPPI. The authorities had allocated 10,000 tickets for the match in the 30,000 capacity stadium, although only 5,000 were available to the public.

Many were trampled and crushed in a stampede as supporters fled tear gas and birdshot used by the police to disperse fans massing at the stadium’s gates – including many who were in a narrow metal tunnel that had been constructed to regulate the numbers entering the stadium.

The UWK said that 28 of their members were killed, while the Ministry of Health reported that 19 bodies had been taken to public hospitals.

A “large numbers of ticketless fans tried to storm the stadium, which caused security forces to prevent them from damaging the stadium facilities”, the Ministry of Interior said in a statement.

“This incident was well arranged,” countered Yusef*, another member of the UWK who had attempted to enter the stadium. “[It] is connected to the January 25 revolution.”

[Read the rest of the article published by AJE here]


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