Ahly's Ultras call for mass protests

Sherif Tarek , Saturday 2 Jun 2012

Ahly's Ultras joins political groups hitting the street in protest against the verdicts reached in the trials of Hosni Mubarak and associates; group calls on all Egyptians to demonstrate

Ahly's Ultras groups (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Ahly's main Ultras (hardcore football fans) groups — the Ultras Ahlawy and Ultras Devils — have called for immediate mass rallies to protest the controversial verdicts reached in the trial of deposed president Hosni Mubarak, his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, ex-interior minister Habib El-Adly and six of the latter's assistants.

In Saturday's session, presiding judge Ahmed Refaat pronounced the ruling, which unexpectedly saw Mubarak and El-Adly get life sentences after being convicted of involvement in the killing of protesters at the hands of the police during last year's January uprising.

The rest of the defendants were found not guilty while additional corruption charges were dropped because, according to the court, they were committed more than 10 years ago.

Angry at the Egyptian judicial system, masses of demonstrators headed to Cairo's Tahrir Square, the focal point of the 2011 uprising, after the verdict was returned with more protest marches planned to head to the same destination soon.

Demonstrations broke out in the coastal governorates of Suez and Alexandria too, with most protesters saying a harsher punishment should have been imposed on all defendants.

Ultras Ahlawy, known as UA07 and centralised in Cairo, and the Ultras Devils, whose members are situated in Port Said, Alexandria, Zagazig and Suez, are among the groups that announced their intent to stage protest marches, which also include the Muslim Brotherhood, the April 6 Youth Movement, the Revolution Youth Coalition and the presidential campaigns of eliminated candidates Hamdeen Sabbahi and Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh.

The Ultras Ahlawy said on its official Facebook page: "The final scene of the farcical play [the trial] and the underestimation of the Egyptian citizen's mentality indicate the return of the oppressive regime, and the end of the revolution. So you either participate in the killing of the revolution or breathe life into it.

"Whoever wants to join our march we will rally in front of the Ahly club and set off at 16:00CMT (less than eight hours after the verdict pronunciation)."

The Ultras Devils adopted a more aggressive tone.

Their statement reads: "We are fed up, we have waited for long for the rights of the martyrs [uprising's victims] and Egypt's mothers cried out grief over their death … they waited a victory in court and that justice is served but we did not find any justice from the judiciary.

"We are the generation that launched the revolution and revealed the corruption that other generations remained tight-lipped about. Let's make our primary demand retribution against the killers of the martyrs.

"All the groups' members in all sections and every governorate should participate in any protests, in order to regain the rights of the martyrs and finish the revolution."

During the January uprising, Egypt's Ultras groups, particularly those of Cairo-based clubs Ahly and Zamalek, acted as foot soldiers while facing Mubarak's security forces, and also featured in several other protests and clashes with security forces afterwards.

On 1 February, at least 74 spectators — mostly from the Ultras Ahlawy and Ultras Devils — were killed in the aftermath of a league game between Masry and Ahly, when thousands of home supporters attacked in the stands the Cairo team's fans amidst suspicious passiveness from the Central Security Forces (CSF) at the Port Said Stadium.

The trial of those accused of orchestrating the incident, which further tarnished the relationship of the Ultras groups and the police, is still underway.

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