- Middle East/North Africa
Hardcore football fan group Ultras Ahlawy is mobilizing supporters to rally for the court sentencing of defendants accused of killing more than 70 fans at a Port Said football match last year.
Seventy-five defendants were charged over their alleged involvement in the rampage that followed a premiere league match in the Port Said Stadium between the Ahly and Masry teams on 1 February.
The ultras said in a Facebook post that mobilizing a demonstration outside the court on 26 January, when the verdict is expected, will take time. In several cities, the group is showing video screenings of the violence that followed the fateful match, and graffiti — some reading "retribution or chaos" — can also be seen in many neighborhoods calling for people to show up on the day of the trial.
“Glory for the martyrs,” reads the title of a statement the group is distributing to the public. The statement describes the Port Said events as a massacre in which "young men were killed, their only fault chanting against a corrupt regime.”
Less than two months before the match, ultra Mohamed Mostafa was killed during protests outside the cabinet building, after which the group became more vocal with political chants against the then-ruling military council. The group claims this was one of the reasons behind the attack on Ahly fans.
“The Port Said massacre has never been about hooliganism as the media portrayed it, but all evidence shows it was a conspiracy carried out by several parties, police, armed forces and Port Said fans," the statement read.
The group also announced yesterday a Tahrir Square vigil planned for 18 January ahead of the trial date. Families of the victims will attend, the group statement said, calling on anyone who believes in their cause to join them.
Port Said Criminal Court began considering the case on 17 April, convening at the Police Academy in Cairo due to security concerns.