Although they are considered to be fierce foes to one another in football stadiums, Egyptian Ultras groups — vociferous football fans — have decided in an unprecedented move to join forces in Friday’s planned protests, seeking to avenge the assaults some in their number suffered at the hands of the police after a football game yesterday.
Ultras Ahlawy and Zamalek’s White Knights announced they will together congregate in Tahrir Square, the venue of the anticipated mass demonstrations. The Yellow Dragons of Ismaili also stated that they will be participating in the protests.
While political forces intend to call for the halt of all military trials for civilians, as well as a definitive timetable for handing over power to a civil administration and to scrap the recently annouced Elections Laws, the Ultras groups have an objective of their own: settling the score with the police.
The Central Security Forces (CSF), renowned for their brutal crackdown on protesters during the January 25 Revolution, chased Ultras Ahlawy members immediately after the final whistle of Ahly’s 4-0 drubbing of second division side Kima Aswan in the Egypt Cup, using batons to beat them and clear the stadium. Several members of the fanatic fan group were arrested and transferred to the military prosecution. They are yet to learn their fate.
Ultras Ahlawy and the White Knights gathered today before the prosecution’s office to check on the detained supporters, but to no avail. Some member of both groups also went to the Police Academy, where the trial of toppled president Hosni Mubarak is being held. Later in the day, Ultras members told Ahram Online that rallying in Tahrir Square seems the only way to “regain the respect of their colleagues”.
The Tuesday night clashes continued outside the 74,100-seat venue, which was only partially filled, leaving at least 90 supporters and 45 policemen injured. The incident has done nothing to aid current media campaigns to improve the police's image, tarnished in the wake of the Egyptian Revolution.
The reasons for the clash are not immediately clear, but widespread reports say the police reacted after fans hurled insults at the Ministry of Interior, former minister head Habib El-Adly, and ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
The three major Ultras groups — Ultras Ahlawy, the White Knights and the Yellow Dragons — took part in the January 25 Revolution and were at the forefront during the bloody clashes between protesters and police forces.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said the political forces that have called for Friday’s mass protests will be responsible for organising the anticipated demonstrations and maintaining order.
Having stated that security will be the responsibility of protesters, the police and military forces that have been deployed in Tahrir Square for weeks are widely expected to evacuate before Friday.