Sounds like it was a premeditated massacre, not merely a riot.On Wednesday night, the Port Said soccer team Al Masry beat Cairo’s Al Ahly in an Egyptian League home match. The Al Masry fans invaded the pitch—in celebration, but also looking for vengeance in a long feud. It turned into a hooligan rampage. More than seventy Ahly supporters were killed: beaten; stabbed; thrown from high stadium tiers; trampled in a corridor inside the stadium as they tried to flee, and found doors locked from the outside. The violence was not overtly about politics, but Egypt’s streets are roiling now, with marches and sit-ins and demonstrations and strikes. We are in the middle of a revolution, and everything is political.
The tragedy sparked outrage and anger, and the emotions were directed at the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, which rules the country and has been seen as prevaricating on handing over executive power to a civilian authority. Egyptian soccer fans known as Ultras are well organized—disciplined, tough young kids under a capo system. In the Battle of the Camels during the revolution, they were at the vanguard of the defense of Tahrir Square. Many Ahly fans said that the police were taking their vengeance on the Ultras for having beaten them a year ago. Why were the doors locked? Why were the fans not searched as they came in carrying knives and flares and clubs? Why did the riot police stand by and do nothing? Who turned the stadium lights off just as the fight began?
The word conspiracy loomed large. Parliament met, and legislators pointed fingers. An M.P. for a regimist party decried the supposed incitements of a American-Israeli axis. The Muslim Brotherhood linked the violence with a protesting crowd that had stood outside Parliament the day before, chanting against “the Brotherhood traitors who sold the revolution to SCAF!” (A political deal between the two is widely suspected.) For the Brotherhood, both were examples of the forces of the thugs of a counterrevolutionary “third hand” that wished to destabilize the country and derail the legitimate political process. Liberal M.P.s said it was SCAF’s responsibility, and called for SCAF to transfer authority and for the resignation of the Interior Minister.
All day, in cafés and lobbies and on TV sets perched on boxes in the street, Cairenes watched the parliamentary session, with a black ribbon striped across the screen. Everyone was upset and angry; they watched quietly, mesmerized by the novelty of an open, public national debate and appalled by loss of life. Many of those who died were teen-agers. “And it’s always the little ones who are killed,” one man told me sadly, “the ones who can’t run and can’t defend themselves.”
What the hell is wrong with these people. Fuck.