Thursday, February 09, 2012

Egyptians Battle Police After Soccer Massacre

Egyptians battle police after soccer massacre

By John Catalinotto
Published Feb 8, 2012 7:47 PM

Reacting to a massacre at a soccer match in Port Said on Feb. 1, people in Egypt took to the streets for five days, battling police outside the Interior Ministry. By Feb. 6, the protests seem to have diminished. Still it is obvious that the revolution which a year ago overthrew President Hosni Mubarak is far from settled.

The latest clashes began after 73 soccer fans were killed and thousands wounded following a Feb. 1 match between a Cairo team and the Port Said team when one group of fans attacked the other. Most were killed and injured in the crush of trying to escape the fighting.

Many of the fans and people in general blame the military authorities and the police for failing to stop the assaults. People say they are especially suspicious because of the role the Cairo fans, known as the “Ultras,” had played in last year’s revolution. They helped organize the physical defense of Tahrir Square against Mubarak’s hired gangsters.

On Feb. 2, the Ultras joined others in the streets of Cairo, Suez and other cities to continue protesting the military-led government. The next day thousands streamed into Tahrir Square and then moved to the Interior Ministry. Slogans varied from demanding the resignation of Hussein Tantawi, the head of the military council — which is the executive committee of the government — to demanding that the military leave the government entirely.

During the protests, the repressive forces used shotgun pellets and tear gas against the demonstrators, who answered with stones and chunks of concrete. By Feb. 5, the authorities had erected concrete walls around the ministry and set up barbed wire in the street.

The military regime is no friend of the Egyptian people. But along with its repression of the popular movement, the military regime has also showed displeasure with Washington’s role in Egypt.

The Egyptian police subsequently brought charges against 41 employees of Western nongovernmental organizations functioning in Egypt. These included 19 U.S. citizens who are agents of the ­International Republican Institute, _Freedom House and the National Democratic ­Institute, all openly pro-imperialist organizations.
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