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Ahly's Ultras lock horns with police in Egypt Nile Delta

Ahly's hard-core fan group Ultras Devils confront security forces after calls to release detained Ultras member in Menoufiya

Ahram Online , Wednesday 13 Mar 2013
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Egyptian soccer fans of Ahly club in front of their club in Cairo (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
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Members of Ahly's hard-core fan group Ultras Devils clashed with Egyptian police forces on Wednesday at the Shebin El-Kom court complex in the Nile Delta governorate of Menoufiya, after a protest calling for the release of a detained colleague.

Mohamed Gamal Hilal, Ultras Devils member, was arrested on charges of sabotage as well as for his alleged affiliation to the recently emerged Black Bloc – labelled as a "vigilante group" – members of which are characterised by their black clothing, face masks and readiness to resort to violence to reach so-called "revolutionary objectives."

Hilal has been recently detained for 15 days pending investigation. Hundreds of Ultras members, consequently, gathered around the Shebin El-Kom court complex to demand his release. Violence erupted shortly afterwards with the police trying to disperse the crowd.

Some of the protesters threatened to break into the premises should Hilal remain in custody, lighting fireworks and flares, as well as tires near the building, according to Al-Ahram Arabic-language news website.

The Ultras Devils' Facebook page said security forces in Menoufiya assaulted the group's members during a "peaceful" protest, stating some of the members were beaten up and dragged.

"It hasn't been known yet how many of the group members have been arrested and falsely accused; a new crime by the interior ministry. The police took advantage of the absence of the media," the statement read.

The Ultras Devils, whose members are situated in cities outside of Cairo, such as Port Said, Alexandria, Zagazig, and Suez, are considered the second Ultras group of the Cairo club. The Ultras Ahlawy, known as UA07 and centralised in Cairo, is the leading Ultras group of Ahly.

Both groups have been at odds with the police for years. Following clashes during and after football games with security forces deployed at stadiums, they joined many protests that led to clashes with police forces during Egypt's January 25 Revolution.

The relationship between the Ultras and the police took a severe turn for the worse after Port Said's infamous stadium disaster last year.

That incident saw the city's home fans assault their Cairo counterparts – fans of the rival Ahly football club – following a league match. At least 72 of the latter were killed in the ensuing bloodshed. Most of the victims were Ultras members.

Egyptian security forces stand accused of facilitating home fans' attack on members of Ahly's Ultras fan group – as punishment, some claim, for the latter's role in Egypt's 2011 revolution.

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