18 February 2016
Fleeting hopes that Egypt’s militant, street battled-hardened football fans may have breached general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s repressive armour were dashed with this week’s sentencing of 15 supporters on charges of attempting to assassinate the controversial head of storied Cairo club Al-Zamalek SC.
Although the sentences of one year in prison handed down by a Cairo court were relatively light by the standards of a judiciary that has sent hundreds of regime critics to the gallows and condemned hundreds more to lengthy periods in jail, it threatens to close the door to a dialogue that had seemingly been opened, if only barely, by Al-Sisi.
Al-Sisi’s rare gesture came in a month that witnessed three mass protests, two by football fans in commemoration of scores of supporters killed in two separate, politically loaded incidents, and one by medical doctors – an exceptional occurrence since Al-Sisi’s rise to power in a military coup in 2013 followed by a widely criticised election and the passing of a draconic anti-protest law.
… James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author ofThe Turbulent World of Middle East Soccerblog and a forthcoming book with the same title.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 19/02/2016