Day 10 - Day of National Mourning - All Egypt - February 2, 2012

Following the events in Port-Saïd that left 74 dead at the end of a football match, incomprehension, anger and deep sadness have shaken the Egyptians to the core. They are profoundly shocked to realize that their fellow countrymen are capable of such ignominy; a disgrace that some attribute to political maneuvering.

It is, in fact, a strange coincidence that it should take place only 10 days after the television announcement by General Hussein Tantaoui of “the end of the state of emergency throughout the country, except for the fight against violent offences.”  Indeed the drama took place against a wider background of instability in the country following the revolution.

That evening, the Al Masry and Al-Ahly clubs were facing each other as part of the 17th day of the Egyptian Premier League, the national championship. From the start of the match there were reports of the use of fireworks by Al Masry supporters against their Al-Ahly adversaries.  At the final whistle, supporters of the winning Al Masry team rushed onto the pitch to attack their Al-Ahly opponents. Stones and bottles were thrown, rockets launched, clubs wielded. Worse still, blank and live rounds were fired and many people were trampled following the closure of the stadium exit on the Al-Ahly side. Supporters were literally thrown off the terraces to the ground. Spectators were subjected to their assailants’ attacks for 30 long minutes before security forces intervened.

Although we have already witnessed violence in the past from certain hooligans (like many European clubs), these events at Port Saïd have no parallel in the history of Egyptian – or indeed world – football. The role of the police has been questioned by certain bloggers who accuse them of having removed the barriers in order to inflame the situation between rival fans.

The Egyptian Football Federation has now suspended the championship and Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri has announced the sacking of the Federation’s directors, as well as the resignation of the Governor of Port-Saïd. The People’s Assembly, which controls legislative power, has called for an emergency session (shown on TV in the background of the photograph).

It is a black day for Egypt, a black day for democracy… Added to this tragedy, the strange escalation of hold-ups over the last few weeks seem to herald the reverberations of dark times still to come from the vestiges of the Mubarak era (represented by the leaders of the transitional military powers) in their attempt to put a delectable alternative before the people - them or chaos. It is important to note that these terrible incidents can in no way be imputed to the inhabitants of Port-Saïd (Al Masry), but to hired agitators working for the current military regime.

Photo & text by Gaël Favari

(Photo © Gaël Favari for The Global Journal)


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