20 April 2015
Egyptian-general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s iron grip on dissent is likely to be put to the test with the sentencing to death of 11 football fans for involvement in a politically loaded football brawl three years ago that left 74 militant supporters of storied Cairo club Al-Ahly SC dead.
The brawl and the subsequent sentencing to death, in an initial trial two years ago, of 21 supporters of the Suez Canal city of Port Said’s Al-Masry SC sparked mass protests by Al-Ahly fans demanding justice in the walk-up to the court hearings, and a popular revolt in Port Said and other Suez Canal cities once the verdict was issued that forced then-president Mohamed Morsi to declare an emergency and deploy military troops to the region.
Although the judge in the retrial lowered the number of Al-Masry supporters facing a death penalty, the verdict is certain to spark renewed anger in Port Said where many see the fans as scapegoats in what was likely an effort that got out of hand by the military and security forces to punish the Al-Ahly supporters for their key role in the 2011 popular revolt that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak and subsequent mass protests against military rule.
… James M. Dorsey is a Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, co--director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, a syndicated columnist, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 22/04/2015