Ultras Ahlawy call for Wednesday march on prosecutor's office

Ahram Online, Sunday 12 Feb 2012

Football fan group calls for Wednesday march on state prosecutor's office to demand 'retribution' for victims of 1 February Port Said violence

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Masry football team fans raid Port Said stadium on 1 February attacking both Ahly fans and players in Egypt's worst football disaster. (Photo: Reuters)

Ultras Ahlawy – hardcore fans of Egypt's Ahly football club – are calling for a protest march on the office of Egypt's public prosecutor on Wednesday to demand "retribution" for the more than 70 of its members who lost their lives in Port Said's 1 February football violence.

The planned march represents the first action taken by the Ultras Ahlawy, which has been observing a period of mourning for the victims, until now.

On Sunday, the group issued a statement on its official Facebook page listing three demands, threatening to "take our rights with our own hands" if the demands weren't met.

Those demands include the punishment of police officers involved in the disaster, including the interior minister, the Port Said security director, the Port Said governor and the manager of Port Said Stadium. The group also demands the purge of the interior ministry from corrupt elements, and has accused the minister himself of inciting violence against its members.

The group further accused security forces of intentionally neglecting stadium security, which, it says, was the main reason for the incident's surprisingly high death toll.

The statement went on to assert that those who attacked Ahly fans after the match had been supporters of rival team Masry who had been known to police. The Ultras statement went on to demand their arrest.  

The group also called on the media to stop propagating the idea that the violence had been caused by infiltrators from a "third party" who had slipped into the ranks of Masry supporters.

The Ultras' planned march on Wednesday is scheduled to set out from Ahly Club headquarters in Cairo's Gezira district at 4pm, en route to the public prosecutor's office. The Ultras Ahlawy have also called on non-members to participate in the march.

In the immediate wake of the disaster, the public prosecutor detained Port Said's security director and a handful of his colleagues pending further investigation.

A parliamentary fact-finding committee on the disaster delivered its report to the People's Assembly (the lower house of parliament) on Sunday, blaming police for "facilitating" the violence at the stadium and condemning the Egyptian Football Association for failing to provide adequate security as is stipulated by world football body FIFA.

A day after the tragedy, protests erupted in several Egyptian cities, with angry demonstrators blaming police for the catastrophe. Some protesters marched on the interior ministry in downtown Cairo to voice their anger, to which police retaliated by firing tear gas.

Clashes continued between protesters and police for five days, resulting in the death of 16 protesters and hundreds of injuries.

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