Feb 20, 2012
On February 1st, there were clashes at a soccer stadium in the city of Port Said, in the north of Egypt. This led to the death of 74 spectators and hundreds of wounded among the supporters of the Cairo team, Al-Ahly.
Since then there have been many demonstrations in downtown Cairo to protest against the government and the generals, who are held responsible for the deaths in Port Said. Witnesses, both spectators and soccer players, described how the police force present at the match stood back as hoodlums armed with iron rods attacked supporters of the Cairo team.
The Port Said police at a minimum were passive, proving their complicity in this provocation. Those in power do this a lot. This time it was against Cairo youth from working class neighborhoods, who are the main supporters of the Al-Ahly team. Before and after the fall of Mubarak, there have been provocative interventions. It’s not hard to see the hand of the police and army stirring up these confrontations, which are immediately followed by violent repression. This was the case last October at the time of a demonstration of Coptic Christians in front of the radio and television building.
For the moment, the forces of repression aim at the Cairo youth called “ultras.” They are youth from the working class who took part in the demonstrations demanding Mubarak’s ouster, who are opposed to the attacks of armed partisans, and who ceaselessly continue to demand that the Supreme Military Council and its head Tantawi give up power.
The demonstrators in downtown Cairo protest that the army continues to run the country. For several days, they have been confronting anti-riot police who fired at them killing 12 people and wounding an estimated 2,500 more. The generals, who claim to be a fortress against “disorder,” want to justify reimposing the recently-abolished state of emergency. The chain of events in the week following the Port Said soccer game shows the generals intend to stay in power until the presidential election scheduled in June.
But nothing says the population will be duped. Even if most people were only spectators at the Cairo and Suez demonstrations, everyone is suffering heavily from the increase in prices, for example, on heating gas. The Egyptian government is asking for a loan from the International Monetary Fund, so the people will have to face more economic violence that keeps them in poverty, for the profit of the Western powers and the Egyptian privileged classes.