Salafi preacher: Port Said victims are not martyrs

Fans killed during violence at a football match last Wednesday are not martyrs according to Islam, a Salafi preacher said Monday, according to the London-based paper Asharq Al-Awsat.

Abdel Moneim al-Shahat, a spokesperson for the ultra-conservative Salafi movement, said during a Salafi conference in Alexandria that the victims had died for football, an outlandish game imported from the West and prohibited by religion.

At least 74 people were killed at Port Said Stadium Wednesday when supporters of the local Masry team stormed the pitch to attack fans of the visiting Ahly team. Many activists, hardcore football fans known as ultras and media outlets have since referred to the victims as martyrs.

Shahat said Islam only permits three sports: swimming, archery and horse riding. He said those who went to a football match cannot be martyrs because they were going for entertainment that distracts people from worshiping God.

Football players receive gigantic salaries compared to many scholars, who cannot afford daily subsistence, Shahat said. He said money spent on football would be better spent on quizzes for memorizing the Quran.

Shahat previously stated it was necessary to cover up ancient Egyptian statues, stirring up resentment in Egypt's tourism industry.

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