- (Photo: Reuters/Stringer)
Yesterday's football riots were not only about a football game but also about the desperation and frustration still felt by many in Egypt, commentators have said.
Seventy-four people were killed in a clash between al-Masry and al-Ahly, two teams that have had a fierce historic rivalry. Fans were attacked by supporters of the losing team; when police did not respond quickly enough, civilians were left to fend for themselves. Many suffered serious injuries or were trampled to death attempting to escape the stadium.
Today, though, rival Ultra fans, Ultras Ahly were joined by Ultras White Knights in a larger protest that has moved through Egypt to the Interior Ministry Headquarters. Reporting by Egyptian paper Ahram Online said that protesters were gathering to bring attention to the lack of security provided by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and demand resolution and justice.
One unnamed protester told Ahram Online, "This is a conspiracy designed by the SCAF because the security forces opened the doors for Masry fans to attack Ahly fans."
Mohamed Badie, Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood addressed the people via TV, accusing the ministry of interior of "getting back" at protesters demanding change. Egyptians have been upset at the slow transition from a military-led to elected government.
Analysts have stated that these same protesters are the ones that participated in last year's Arab Spring uprising that led to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak. After being led into despair and poverty, thousands of Egyptians faced persecution and violence for their willingness to stand up to the Mubarak's regime.
Today, though, many claim that the political situation is not much better. Elections were held in December to elect members of parliament, and the Muslim Brotherhood secured a majority in two rounds of elections. The country is scheduled for presidential elections in June, but protesters have asked that those elections take place sooner rather than later.
The presidential candidates have also spoken out about the riots, furthering belief that security forces allowed the attacks, hoping to gain more popularity with protesters.
Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, one candidate, told reporters, "What happened was no mass riot, but rather a full-fledged crime and a terrible massacre by forces that do not care about the human soul. The armed robberies of the past few days show that the military council is complicit as remnants of the former regime in the security forces and Interior Ministry try to sow discord and spread chaos."
Another candidate, Hazem Abu Ismali stated, "The military council is behind this. It is manipulating the people with laws that have been decreed in secrecy."
Amr Moussa, a third presidential hopeful stated that the riots are "a blow to the stability of society."