Egypt arrests 37 football fans

Some 37 football fans were taken into custody overnight in Cairo after 80 fans were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of staging a protest on the fifth anniversary of the deadly 2012 riot.

In 2012, 73 football fans were killed when riots broke out between rival football clubs in the city of Port Said spelling out Egypt’s worst soccer disaster. Most of those killed were fans of the Al-Ahly football club.

Speaking to news site Mada Masr, attorney Mokhtar Mounir said authorities did not explain why the fans were taken into custody.

The banned group of Al-Ahly fans, known as Ultras Ahlawy, had initially planned to commemorate the anniversary of the stadium massacre but cancelled their plans after some members were arrested ahead of the anniversary.

“We have been subjected to direct threats over the last few days warning us not to be present at Al-Ahly Club on the anniversary, and told that whoever shows up will likely face the same fate as the Al-Ahly martyrs. They began by arresting members from their homes,” the club’s statement said.

Five were then charged with inciting protests and belonging to an outlawed group which was branded a terrorist organisation in 2015.

The authorities and Ultras have faced tensions for years, with Ultras claiming that security forces oppose the group for their role in mobilising the 25 January 2011 revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

The same year, an Egyptian criminal court sentenced 11 people to death over the Port Said riots which did not include any officials or security personnel.

A court is set to review the appeals of those convicted later this month.

The interior ministry previously suggested that fans could commemorate the anniversary at Fustat Park in Cairo if they wished to, the group rejected this.

Mounir confirmed that those detained were currently undergoing security checks that would determine whether to release them or press charges. Public gatherings organised without a permit are banned under Egypt’s draconian anti-terrorism laws.

Those arrested on Wednesday had gathered in cafes across the country to watch the national team play Burkina Faso in the first semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations in Gabon which Egypt won 5-4 taking them to the finals.

Quelle: Middle East Monitor, 03. Februar 2017

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