What happened last night in Port Said cannot be merely linked to just football hooliganism. There are strong connections between the football-related violence and attempts in Parliament to put an end to the State of Emergency, which Hussein Tantawi recently said would only be applied to acts of “thuggery”.
Ziad al-Elaimy, a Social Democratic Party MP, declared in an interview: “What happened cannot be a coincidence. This massacre and three armed robberies happened only one day after the Interior Minister came to Parliament trying to convince us of the importance of maintaining the State of Emergency”.
Adel Aql, a football association official, interviewed by ONTV blamed security forces’ handling of the situation for the large number of deaths. “Security forces are supposed to secure the fans’ exits with an iron fist. Protocol calls for them to close all gates leading to the visiting team’s fans until they are sure of their security”.
Port Said MP Al-Badry Farghaly in a television interview said: “This is a massacre. I’ve never seen as many dead bodies in one place at one time out of all the wars I’ve witnessed” Farghaly confirmed reports that the Port Said governor and the city’s head of security did not attend the match, which is uncommon for matches between teams who have a long rivalry.
“Ultras are very popular and respected among the revolutionaries,” said 45-year-old Port Said trader Ahmed Badr.
“The ultras were the target (on Wednesday). This was a setup for them, a massacre. The military council and the security forces are the only parties held accountable for such events.”
Echoing condemnation by politicians, presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi said those killed in Port Said were victims of “systematic chaos”. He said: “What happened was black vengeance against the Ultras because of their role in the revolution.”.
“I am not a proponent of conspiracy theories. But today a massacre happened, and someone has to be responsible. There is only SCAF right now who seems responsible. This is an indication that we all need to stand together to end military rule as soon as possible,” said activist Wael Khalil.
A medic at a morgue in Port Said said some of the dead were security officers. He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was incredibly not authorized to speak to reporters!!
Meanwhile in Cairo.
Field Marshal Tantawi dispatched two military planes to transfer the injured, the Ahly team, its staff and supporters from Port Said to Cairo, according to state TV. He appeared on television later in the night, saying that the events in Port Said will not affect Egypt’s security. When a reporter asked if he planned to dismiss the governor of Port Said, the field marshal said he was awaiting an investigation.
While Egyptian state TV, showed protesters setting fire to the Cairo Stadium after a football match between the Zamalek team, one of the most popular clubs, and the Ismailia team. The teams were tied 2-2 when the match was called off.
Zamalek coach Hassan Shehata decided not to continue the second half of the match after violent clashes erupted simultaneously in Port Said Stadium between Ahly and Masry fans.
United Ultras protest
Some of the Egyptian football fans who had a front-line role in toppling former President Hosni Mubarak have a new target — the man who replaced him at Egypt’s helm, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.
“We want your head, you traitor Tantawi. You could have carved your name in history, but you were arrogant and you believed Egypt and its people could take a step back and forget their revolution,” the Ultras Tahrir Square (UTS), a group of football fans, wrote on its Facebook page.
For the ultras, as for many politicians and ordinary Egyptians, the anger was not that football fans clashed but that security forces appeared to have done little to stop them. It has added to the mounting frustration at the army’s failure to restore law and order almost a year after taking charge.
“Today, the marshal and the remnants of the regime send us a clear message. We either have our freedom or they punish us and execute us for participating in a revolution against tyranny,” the group said in the statement, quickly circulated online. The ultras are not a single, coherent body. Major football clubs each have their own ultras fan groups, such as Ultras Ahlawy or Ultras White Knights, fans of Zamalek, another major Egyptian football club. UTS, which said Tantawi was in its crosshairs, is a group of fans from various clubs who united in Tahrir Square, the focus for revolutionary campaigning. Ultras Ahlawy responded with a statement on one of their Facebook pages saying that mourning should not be just for the dead but “for everyone who lost his morals, mourning for everyone who sold his soul, mourning for everyone who did not care for the country.”
A joint march by the hardcore football supporters – known as Ultras – of Cairo clubs Ahly and Zamalek will converge on Parliament this afternoon at 1pm to protest the behaviour of Egypt’s security forces.
Written by MarcoPres
Follow him on Twitter @MarcoPresz https://twitter.com/#!/marcopresz
Carlos Latuff, Cartoonist:
Twitter: @CarlosLatuff https://twitter.com/#!/CarlosLatuff