The Port Said Massacre

As clashes between Egyptian police and football fans who fought in the revolution continue, the young men killed in violence at a 2012 Port Said football match should not be forgotten.

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The Port Said Massacre

A long-standing grudge exists between the Egyptian police force and members of Ultras Ahlawy—a fan group of the Cairo-based football team Al-Ahly. The Ultras were on the frontlines in fighting with security forces during the 25 January 2011 uprising. The police are said to see the Ultras as partly responsible for their humiliation in the clashes. Through 2012 and 2013, the Ultras kept up their confrontation with the authorities, emerging as a powerful political force in their own right, following what has become known as the Port Said Massacre.

On 1 February 2012, over 70 people were killed and up to 1,000 injured, at a premier-league football match in Port Said, between Al-Ahly and home-team Al-Masry. In what amounted to a 20-minute frenzy, Al-Masry supporters stormed through the stadium, attacking Al-Ahly fans, who attempted to flee. Al-Ahly fans held the authorities responsible for the incident, saying that the police had done too little to prevent it, in revenge for the Ultras role in the 25 January uprising.

Most of the fans killed in the stadium were between the age of 13 and 20. As parents continued to grieve, a series of trials in early 2013 passed sentence on perpetrators of the massacre. In January, 21 people, mainly al-Masry fans, were sentenced to death, and in March, the death sentences were ratified and a further 18 sent to prison. As most of those sentenced were civilians, the Ultras felt they had not obtained justice, and that the police had got way lightly. Violence directed at the security forces continued.

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