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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More