25 people killed in Egyptian soccer match riot

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Updated 09 February 2015
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25 people killed in Egyptian soccer match riot

CAIRO: A riot broke out Sunday night outside of a major soccer game in Egypt, with a stampede and fighting between police and fans killing at least 25 people, authorities said.
The riot, only three years after similar violence killed 74 people, began ahead of a match between Egyptian Premier League clubs Zamalek and ENPPI at Air Defense Stadium east of Cairo. Such attacks in the past have sparked days of protests pitting the country’s hard-core fans against police officers in a nation already on edge after years of revolt and turmoil.
Two security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least 25 people were killed.
The violence comes as police face increasing scrutiny following the shooting death of a female protester in Cairo and the arrest of protesters under a law heavily restricting demonstrations. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has pledged to bring stability to Egypt amid bombings and attacks by Islamic militants, but also has said Egypt’s emergency situation meant that some violations of human rights were inevitable, if regrettable.
Egypt’s public prosecutor issued a statement ordering an investigation. After convening an emergency meeting to discuss the violence, the Cabinet announced that it was postponing upcoming soccer matches until further notice, Egypt’s state television said.
What caused the violence wasn’t immediately clear. Security officials said Zamalek fans tried to force their way into the match without tickets, sparking clashes. Fans have only recently been allowed back at matches and the Interior Ministry planned to let only 10,000 fans into the stadium, which has a capacity of about 30,000, the officials said.
Zamalek fans, known as “White Knights,” posted on their group’s official Facebook page that the violence began because authorities only opened one narrow, barbed-wire door to let them in. They said that sparked pushing and shoving that later saw police officers fire tear gas and birdshot.
A fan who tried to attend the game, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity out of fear of being targeted by police, said that the stampede was caused by police who fired tear gas at the tightly packed crowd.
“Those who fell down could not get back up again,” the man said.
The Zamalek fan group later posted pictures on Facebook it claimed were of dead fans, including the names of 22 people it said had been killed. The AP could not immediately verify the images.
Egypt’s hard-core soccer fans, known as Ultras, frequently clash with police inside and outside of stadiums. They are deeply politicized and many participated in the country’s 2011 uprising that forced out President Hosni Mubarak. Many consider them as one of the most organized movements in Egypt after the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which the government later outlawed as a terrorist organization following the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist President Muhammad Mursi.
The deadliest riot in Egypt soccer history came during a 2012 match when Port Said’s Al-Masry team hosted Cairo’s Al-Ahly. That riot, at the time the deadliest worldwide since 1996, killed 74 people, mostly Al-Ahly fans.
Two police officers later received 15-year prison sentences for gross negligence and failure to stop the Port Said killings, a rare incident of security officials being held responsible for deaths in the country. Seven other officers were acquitted, angering soccer fans who wanted more police officers to be held accountable for the incident and other episodes of violence.
In response, angry fans burned down the headquarters of Egypt’s Football Association, also protesting its decision to resume matches before bringing those behind that 2012 riot to justice. They’ve also protested and fought officers outside of the country’s Interior Ministry, which oversees police in the country.
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Associated Press writers Hamza Hendawi, Acer Hoteiba and Jon Gambrell contributed to this report.


Syrian children study on the ground in abandoned villa

Displaced Syrian children attend class at a makeshift school in the village of Muhandiseen, in the south western countryside of the Aleppo province, on September 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 25 September 2018
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Syrian children study on the ground in abandoned villa

  • Some sit with their knees drawn on a plastic woven carpet, their shoes neatly by its side

ALEPPO, Syria: In rebel-held northern Syria, displaced children sit or lie on the ground of an unfinished villa, bending over their notebooks to apply themselves as they write the day’s lesson.
Four teachers instruct around 100 children — girls and boys aged six to 12 — at the makeshift school in an opposition-held area in the west of the northern province of Aleppo.
Between the bare walls of the villa abandoned mid-construction, children sit or lie on sheets or plain carpets, their small backpacks cast by their side.
Dubbed “Buds of Hope,” the teaching facility has no desks, library or even working toilets.
Instead, the air wafts in from beyond the pine trees outside through the gaping windows in the cement wall.
Dressed in a bright blue T-shirt and jeans, her hair neatly tied back in a pony tail, a barefoot girl kneels over her book, carefully writing.
“This isn’t a school,” says 11-year-old Ali Abdel Jawad.
“There aren’t any classrooms, no seats, nothing. We’re sitting on the ground,” he says.
In one classroom, a gaggle of veiled young girls sit on a bench, as the teacher explains the lesson to one of their male counterparts near a rare white board.
In another, the school’s only female teacher perches on a plastic chair, as her students gather around on the floor, their backs against the wall.

Some sit with their knees drawn on a plastic woven carpet, their shoes neatly by its side.
The children — as well as their teachers — have been displaced from their homes in other parts of Syria due to the seven-year war, a teacher told an AFP photographer.
Some hail from Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus, a former rebel stronghold that fell back under regime control in April after a blistering offensive and surrender deals.
Others come from the central provinces of Hama or Homs.
A dry fountain lies in the courtyard outside the villa’s elegant facade, where girls link arms and swing around in a circle.
Schools in opposition-held areas are generally funded by aid organizations, but have in the past been hit by bombardment.
“We’re always scared of bombardment and of the situation in general,” says one of the teachers, giving his name as Mohammed.
The building lies in rebel-held territory adjacent to regime-controlled parts of Aleppo city to the east, but also the major opposition stronghold of Idlib to the west.
Some three million people live in the Idlib province and adjacent areas of the neighboring Aleppo and Latakia provinces, around half of them displaced by war in other parts of Syria.
Earlier this month, many feared a regime assault on Idlib, but last week Damascus ally Moscow and rebel backer Ankara announced a deal to temporarily halt it.