Ultras Ahlawy, the hardcore football fan group that supports Cairo’s popular club Al-Ahly, has cancelled an annual gathering to commemorate the mass deaths of club members in a 2012 stadium fight, citing a series of police warnings, raids and arrests of its members.
The gathering was due to be held on Wednesday at Al-Ahly Club in Cairo’s Zamalek district to mark the fifth anniversary of the deaths of 72 Ultras fans who were attacked by rival Masry supporters following a league match in the coastal city of Port Said.
"The group will not be present anywhere [Wednesday] to commemorate the martyrs," read a statement on the group's official Facebook page early Wednesday morning.
The statement said the cancellation comes after a large number of Ultras fans were "subjected to continuous raids on their homes and the arrests of their family members if they were not present," as well as "continuous warnings" from authorities not to attend the event.
Five of the group's members were ordered detained for 15 days on Tuesday over charges including "establishing and leading an illegal group" and "inciting unlicensed protests."
An Egyptian court banned in May 2015 Ultras fan clubs over terrorism concerns.
Police forces on Tuesday stepped up the security presence around Al-Ahly club in anticipation of the gathering.
In its Wednesday statement, the group accused authorities of attempting to tarnish the Ultras’ image and leveling bogus accusations at its members.
No official statement from the interior ministry regarding the gathering or its cancellation could immediately be found.
Eleven people were given death sentences and more than a dozen were handed lengthy prison terms over their role in the killings of the Ultras fans in 2012. However, some fans believe the real culprits remain untouched. The sentences are being appealed before the Court of Cassation.
Nine police officials are among the 73 defendants standing retrial on charges related to the killing of the young fans, with final verdicts yet to be read or carried out.