Egypt: Has SCAF Overplayed Its Hand!
By Hwaa Irfan
So it has happened again folks, yet another football match that erupts in violence becuase the losers do not like the outcome. Accept this time, it is not just another gormless football match (sorry guys), that leads to mindless behavior. Even the opinion of the People’s Assembly’s emergency meeting noted the obvious – it was a planned. Even as this is written, protestors have congregated in Tahrir to attack the Ministry of the Interior, which is believed to be responsible for the deaths of 73 people, and 2,000 inured in the Port Said match between the Cairo-based Al Ahly, and the Delta team Al Masri which won the match!
The week following the commemoration of the January 25 Revolution, met with ongoing peaceful protests and sit-ins on the streets of Cairo, namely Tahrir Square, when even the self interested counter-revolutionaries did not disrupt the communal air. The sun even shone as if inviting Spring, after a typical English winter – a shock to the system in a country without central heating! The call from one of those protests, wich grew louder with momentum and participants, was the call for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, SCAF, to hand over to civilian rule now, and step down. The SCAF claim to the anniversary of the January 25 Revolution 2012 had failed as a celebration, and instead the community spirit was infused with many questions that challenged the SCAF agenda, known and unknown.
As the week passed the Sun withdrew from the scene and the typical English weather returned, as the untelevised and under-reported revolution of the hearts and minds of the people, with the realization that the first stage of the elections for the People’s Assembly was not as fair as it seemed, and that they were willing participants!
However, SCAF felt optimistic, and speeded up the process a little with the elections for the Ashura Council, which in reality would have no real power. As the U.S. 2012 electoral process ensues and which will not change a system that has 41 million on and under the poverty line,regardless of who fronts as president, the Egyptian masses were not willing for more of the nations money to be wasted, after all, the time between the announcement of the Ashura Council elections, and actual voting was far too short to for voters to even know who to vote for, as was the case for the People’s Assembly where incidents of electoral fraud was many, and undealt with. The nations stance was loud and clear, as the results of the Ashura Council elections revealed that less than 15% of the people voted, as SCAF responded to recent protests by removing the never-ending Emergency Law, two days ago!
Confusion was made apparent through State T.V., what should SCAF do! Forget the Ashura Council — install a Council that hardly anyone voted for? The nation had realized the fine of L.E500 for not voting had no validity, as the nation approach the commemoration of Prophet Muhammed’s birth. SCAF had not learnt from Mubarak’s exploitation of football fans when violence broke out between Egypt and Algeria in a match that was played in Sudan, and had left the Egyptian team to be banned from hometown matches for two World Cup qualifiers in 2010.
Thirty years of being silenced, has led to more frequent forms of ‘expression’, as everyone wants to have their say since the January 25 Revolution 2011, a necessary process as one begins to find one’s feet in the country that one was deprived of fully participating in for so long. However, sometimes it gets a bit rough, as was the case in the Egyptian Premier Leagues match.
January 28, 2012, the Ultras, hardcore football fans had stormed a football match not long after kick-off against Al Masri. The referee stopped the game, as the supporters rushed the stands, injuring police, but the Ultras left the stadium after 10 minutes. This was nothing new, in fact supportes of the top Cairo-based team Al-Zamalek, did the same in November 2011, in a match played by Al-Shorta.
It is considered normal for losers of a team to be upset, along with their supporters, but yesterday, 01st February 2012, state T.V. reported in the Delta city of Port Sa’id that Al-Masri supporters surrounded and attacked Al-Ahly which lost 3-1 with stones and bottles. We are talking about a people who are not violent by nature. The nations top player, Mohammed Abu Treika, like the other players was distressed by what took place, that he phoned Al-Ahly’s satellite T.V. channel live from the protection of the changing rooms to say that a fan had died in front of him. That sacredness of life was presented again to a state T.V. that is less concerned with the young lives that were lost, and more concerned with rushing Egypt back into the position of being a global player in the midst of a crumbling capitalist system. However, the nation is in shock as Head of SCAF, Mohammed Tantawi arranged for helicopters to lift out of Port Sa’id the Al-Ahly players, and fans. As for the 13, and 14 amongst the dead…
A planned match between Al-Zamalek and Ismailiya in Cairo football stadium was called off, and according to state T.V. upset fans got aggressive, showing scenes of a burning stadium.
As protestors and the Ultras join in protest in thousands in Tahrir Square, the Ultras head a march to the Ministry of Interior, which was baracaded a few weeks ago due to rising tensions between security forces and a sit-in erupted in violence, and attempted break-ins. The returned call for the removal of all members of the Interior of Ministry has been raised, as this time the Ministry is considered responsible for the violence, as it is believed the riot police stood by and let it happen despite reports that some riot police did try, but were overwhelmed by Ultras. However that does not tally with Abu Treika’s live, but distressed account that there was no security, and no ambulances – nothing!
As Egypt begins a three-day mourning period, the head of Egypt’s Football League, was dismissed, the governor of Port Sa’id, Major-General Muhammed Abdullah was dismissed by interim Primer Minister Kamal Al Ganzouri against the wishes of SCAF, and dismissed the Head of Security, and the Head of police investigations, and intends to dismiss the entire Football League, and reported as such to the People’s Assembly.
The People’s Assembly decided from their emergency meeting that the violence was planned, SCAF should hand over to civilian rule,
As the call for a million man march to take place tomorrow,03rd February, the nations perception of SCAF during the elections for the People’s Assembly can be likened to Mubarak’s, split between a growing mistrust, and counter-revolutionairies who feel that nobody else can rule. Many MPs along with much of the nation place the balme squarely at the foot of SCAF. As FIFA demands an investigation into the Port Said incident, and SCAF or the government (not sure which) asks for all media footage, and photos of the incident be handed in for an internal investigation, SCAF have only added to the call to step down now, and that the reality that mounting crimes including an armed bank robbery, along with all the investigations have resulted in zero with 9,000 criminals still on the loose. There is also recriminations against the Muslim Brotherhood, according to a nations daily Al Ahram are increasingly showing enmity against the revolution. That call takes the form of statement signed by the:
- April 6 Youth Movement (Democratic Front)
- People’s Committees for the Defence of the Revolution
- Revolution Youth Coalition
- Union of Revolution Youth
- Coalition of Revolutionary Forces
- Coptic activism group the Union of Maspero Youth
- Egyptians for Azhar Reform Movement
- Maspero State Television Revolutionaries
- Youth Movement for justice and Freedom
- National Front for Justice and Democracy (not the Freedom and Justice Party – the Muslim Brotherhood)
- Free Front for Peaceful Change
- Revolutionary Socialists
- Egyptian Current Party
- Popular Alliance Party
Al Ahly have banned all sports, and the city of Port Sa’id for 5 years, as the quarter-finals of the African Nations Cup are played in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon this weekend will observe a minutes silence!
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