While clashes continue between protesters and the army in front of the Interior Ministry the conspiracy mill concerning last week’s tragedy in Port Said has been churning overtime. The Egyptian authorities would like us to believe that the death of 74 el-Ahly supporters during the aftermath of a football match between archrivals el-Ahly from Cairo and el-Masry playing a home game in Port Said, was ‘just’ a terrible form of hooliganism. Respected media and analysts aim for the middle ground by arguing that the tragedy was a perfect storm between hooliganism, police incompetence and political orchestration. I wonder in this case if Egypt and its Revolution is served by such a balanced analysis of events.
As I have reported extensively during my days at the Med being a woman in Egypt often feels like being a chased animal during hunting season. Yet,despite that and since I never really feared for my life nor possessions, I’ve always experienced Egypt as a relatively safe country. Hardcore crime like burglaries, armed robberies or murders were pretty much unheard of. I always assumed that was a combination of the non-violent, in essence kind-hearted nature of the Egyptian people and a very ‘efficient’ security system. A year ago the Egyptian people staged a virtually non-violent revolution, that only turned ugly when then-still-President Mubarak let his thuggish mob loose to intimidate peaceful protesters.
During the Revolution the police force deteriorated and in the post-Mubarak era it is still rather confused concerning its role. Crime levels have risen since Mubarak’s resignation and a sense of insecurity is felt by Egyptians and foreigners alike. However, last week’s tragedy has less to do with police incompetence and the more with the conscious attempt to undermine the achievements of the Revolution. Let Dark Fairy explain.
Firstly, hardcore Ahly supporters have a history of confrontations with the police and they played a front line role during last year’s Revolution. It is very imaginable that when Ahly supporters were attacked the police were by no means keen to intervene and the massacre could even be explained as a punishment for the Ultras’ – hardcore Ahly fans- involvement in the Revolution. Considering the size of the country’s army and police force and the efficiency demonstrated by these forces when it comes to the protection of foreign tourists in the light of terrorist threats and the fact that Egypt is still operating under martial law, should be prove that the Egyptian state is more than capable of providing security at a high-risk football match. Secondly, I wasn’t on the scene, but several Masry supporters have stated they have seen so-called Masry fans armed with knives, swords and clubs arrive by bus loads. Locals claim they’d never seen these people before and suspect these people were deliberately brought in from elsewhere to cause trouble. Thirdly, it has been mentioned that all gates between the pitch and the stands, normally locked, were open so supporters could easily flood the pitch. Fourthly, the exit gate for Ahly supporters was miraculously sealed so fans could not easily escape. Lastly, to add some ominous symbolism, the tragedy in Port Said took place exactly one year after the so-called camel chase in Cairo, when Mubarak’s thugs attacked peaceful protesters.
Mubarak has warned that if he is no longer in control there will be chaos. The army doesn’t seem horrible keen to hand over power to a civilian government as it fears there will be chaos. If the post-Mubarak era is not going to result in the chaos the old rulers predicted then they will create that chaos themselves to prove their case. The army has proved for several decades it is capable of ruling with an iron fist. The army is still in control now. There is absolutely no valid reason why the army wouldn’t be able to provide basic security to the Egyptian people. With the the events in Port Said, the army has shown its true colours and has demonstrated that it doesn’t care for the country and its people. It doesn’t want Egypt to be a prosperous nation where there is a place for every citizen. I sincerely hope that the Egyptian people are able to reclaim their revolution and show the army what true patriotism really is. Bee huub masr, for the love of Egypt.