ISSN 2330-717X

Egypt: Football, Blood And Politics – OpEd


By Konstantin Garibov

74 people were killed and hundreds injured as football fans engaged in violent clashes following a football match in the Egyptian city of Port Said on Wednesday. The fight became the most violent over the past 50 years and the bloodiest since the departure of President Hosni Mubarak, triggering protest rallies in several big cities. More than 2,000 people were also injured during the picketing of the interior ministry building in Cairo. There were casualties among the police and interior forces that tried to disperse the crowds. The Voice of Russia’s Konstantin Garibov has more details.

Clashes between youth groups and police forces have been going on for three days. People are accusing the authorities of having done nothing to prevent the bloodshed which occurred after a football match between the local football team and the Cairo club on Wednesday and in which more than 70 people were killed.

Dozens of police and interior officers have been injured after the protesters have made several attempts to storm the interior ministry over the past 24 hours. Angry crowds hurled petrol bombs. In response, police fired tear gas to stop the protesters from breaking into the interior ministry’s building.

Meanwhile, experts say that the football brawl could have been provoked by Islamists who press for a solution concerning the military rule. Dmitry Bondarenko of the Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences describes the current situation as explosive.

“The military continue to rule the country which makes it all worse. The authorities should take urgent measures to placate the public first and then prepare the ground for elections. Many political groups, both Islamic and pro-western ones, will surely insist on elections. But elections may create a stalemate because amid the continuing violence, the losing side may claim the elections to have been rigged.”

Given the situation, participants in street rallies are feeling strong enough to secure change and justice all by themselves without waiting for the government to respond to their demands. They demonstrated this by staging a mass rally on Tahrir Square on the first anniversary of the so-called Revolution of January 28th 2011. Their current slogan is President First! This means that presidential elections should come first, before the adoption of a new Constitution. But there will always be those dissatisfied with election results, Azhdar Kurtov of the Strategic Research Institute, says.

“Once they have sensed an opportunity to seize power, they rarely stop. The recent elections led to the formation of a new parliament but the protesters had expected more of the elections. As a result, they continued to exert pressure on the military top and insist on presidential elections and a new Constitution. France saw a similar situation when the drafts of a new Constitution proposed by moderate politicians were rejected. Radicals are good at destruction. Their destructive slogans mobilize the masses but over a short period of time. But radical groups are incapable of creative activity.”

The destructive nature of the current protests in Egypt is becoming more and more pronounced. Criminal gangs have been raising their heads amid the ongoing unrest and no action from the authorities. Criminals are making assaults on banks, currency exchange outlets and shops. A large number of weapons are in circulation and for the first time in the history of Egypt’s unrest, the security of ordinary citizens is under threat.

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VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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