News / Middle East

Egyptians Blame Military for Soccer Bloodshed

Demonstrators take part in a protest condemning the killings that happened on Wednesday at Port Said stadium, in front of the parliament in Cairo February 2, 2012.
Demonstrators take part in a protest condemning the killings that happened on Wednesday at Port Said stadium, in front of the parliament in Cairo February 2, 2012.
Elizabeth Arrott

Egypt has begun three days of mourning for the victims of the worst soccer violence in the nation's history. 

The people of Port Said are reeling after the spasm of violence tore through this coastal town. At least 74 people were killed when fans rioted and many are blaming the military government for failing to maintain security.

Few could believe their local football fans, rowdy as they have been in the past, would ever do anything this deadly. Many saw a sinister hand behind the rioting.



Currency trader Ahmad Hosni believes it was planned by the army and the police. Standing outside closed shops on a largely deserted street, he asks “how many matches have taken place and nothing like this happened?  They want to mess up the country.”

Nearby, driver Mamdouh Hassan questions how fans managed to get weapons into the stadium in the first place. He says no one was searched, and they brought in batons and knives. Hassan believes “something else” is behind the violence.

Protesters, some carrying batons themselves Thursday, converged on the town's main government building. They too blamed the army, the police and “the old regime” of deliberately allowing the violence to get out of control.  

Video of the match, watched by millions live and millions more in constant repeats, show police standing still as fans surged onto the field.



Like their counterparts in Cairo where protests were gaining strength, people in Port Said hurled accusations of deliberate negligence by officials to make a case for continued military rule. They sought - and got - the local governor's resignation.

Parliament joined human rights groups in demanding an investigation. The government also announced it has suspended the heads of Port Said's security and police investigations.  

But for some, the government's conduct remains suspect. Port Said lawyer Ahmed, who gave just his first name, says he is particularly appalled the violence came after the military council pointedly kept the nation's emergency laws in place for cases of “thuggery.”

“So why you say that you're going to keep emergency case for something like [this] if you're not intending to do it," Ahmed asked.  "So why just keep it?  I don't know this is between the ministry of the interior and the ministry of the army [defense]."

Some also see the diehard fans being used as pawns.  The “ultras” as they are known, have long tangled with police and during the revolution one year ago sided with the protesters.

The events of the intervening year, culminating in the soccer riot, have left many in despair.  Salah el Banna is among the doctors at Port Said General Hospital who have been treating the injured.  

He says before the revolution, the police used to intervene, establishing cordons and proper security at the entrances.  He argues that those same standards must still be applied.

But the irony is not lost on several observers of the unrest; in the last few months they note, police have not hesitated to intervene when the gatherings are against the government.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid