AN IMPORTANT COMMENT
Joseph Mayton 2 February 2012
Video courtesy of Hossam El-Hamalawy
Protesters inside Misr Station in Ramses, awaiting the injured Ultras members coming back from Port Said, chanting: “The people demand the execution of the Field Marshal (Tantawi).”
".....The most recent violence, which left at least 74 dead in Port Said, is anything but football related. It was a coordinated event led by the security forces to draw Egyptians to the streets, to show violence to the world, and create a scenario for which the military junta can remain in place.
It is easy to argue social ills, delayed marriage, poor economy, etc. as the root causes of the violence in the Port Said stadium, but after watching numerous videos of the incident, it appears to have been calculated, and in my opinion, the so-called al-Masry fans who attacked the Ahly players and fans following their victory, are most likely not supporters of the team; they are “thugs” given weapons to attack and cause unrest.
Proof that this was not about football is in the video shown on Ahly TV as the clashes began. Security forces, clad with shields and batons, hiding in a tunnel, watching and remaining immobile. They didn’t move to intervene. There were no attempts to stop the violence before it began, leaving only one thought: they wanted it to happen, and most likely instigated the violence by opening the gates to the pitch to allow people to pour onto the field en masse. Somehow the attackers were wielding a similar white stick, used to smash heads in.
One eyewitness said on Ahly TV that it was security that closed the stadium, barring Ahly fans from leaving, which led to more death and violence.
The military junta and its security apparatus must be blamed for the violence. It was on their watch. They did nothing to stop the clashes and, according to witnesses, encouraged the “supporters” of al-Masry to take to the field......
The Egyptian military will certainly pay a high price for what happened on Wednesday. The Ultras – fans of Ahly – are among the most politicized and active in the country. They have taken to the frontlines in street battles in the country, most notably during the November violence on Mohamed Mahmoud street, fighting back police attacks in earnest. Their presence at protests is galvanizing.
By early Thursday morning, the fans had taken up positions in Tahrir Square, closing it off, preparing for protests. They will not be silenced. The deaths of their fellow fans could be the unlikely “straw” that will see a turning point in Egypt’s yearlong revolution.
Today also marks the anniversary of the Camel Battle, where former regime affiliates rode into Tahrir on camels and horses, using swords and knives to cut down anti-Mubarak protesters. February 2, 2012 could very well be the next movement for change in Egypt.
Football is a powerful force in Egypt. There are millions of Ahly fans across this country, and to watch as their friends and families are being killed will not see silence. We will witness what could be the largest demonstrations in the country against the military. The question now will be, what happens next.
The military junta should be afraid. They have unleashed arguably the one force that can bring them down: the Ultras.
It wasn’t about football last night, it was about the security fomenting and creating violence. Stirring unrest as a means to an end. Egyptians, it appears, are unwilling to sit idly by today and allow the military and their police to remain in power."