26 April 2016
Militant, street battle-hardened Egyptian football fans set the stage for growing protests against the government of general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi when, earlier this month, they forced their way into a stadium, in protest against the country’s long-standing ban on supporters attending football matches.
The storming of the pitch in the Borg Al-Arab stadium in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria during an African Championship match by Ultras Ahlawy was the first major football-related incident since 20 fans were killed in Cairo last year in a clash with security forces. Police fired gas during the Alexandria incident, wounding 29 people.
Militant football fans played a key role in the 2011 revolt as well as in subsequent anti-government protests. Fans moreover constituted the backbone of anti-Al-Sisi student protests following the 2013 military coup in which he overthrew Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first and only democratically elected president, and paved the way for his election as president amid brutal repression of any opposition. The student protests were suppressed with an iron fist, while universities were turned into security force-controlled fortresses.
… 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 of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog and just published a book with the same title.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 26/04/2016