Egyptian court bans popular, hardcore ‘ultra’ soccer fan clubs

Updated 16 May 2015
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Egyptian court bans popular, hardcore ‘ultra’ soccer fan clubs

CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Saturday banned the country’s hardcore soccer fan clubs, known as “ultras,” over terrorism accusations.
The ultras took part in protests during and after the 2011 uprising, and frequently clash with police in and around stadiums. The ruling by the Court of Urgent Matters in Cairo appeared to be the latest effort by the judiciary to prevent demonstrations.
During the 2011 uprising that forced out President Hosni Mubarak, ultras often provided muscle, directed demonstrators and led chants. They are considered one of the most organized movements in Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood.
“They see themselves as a buffer, a channel that offers frustrated, despairing hopeless youth a chance to vent pent-up anger, frustration, and protest peacefully, rather than leaving them with the option of either apathy or violence,” said James M. Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies who closely follows the ultras.
He called the ruling a “dangerous gamble” for the government.
The case was filed by Mortada Mansour, the head of the Zamalek Football Club, one of Egypt’s most popular teams. Mansour has long been at odds with his team’s ultras organization, known as the White Knights.
Last month, 11 fans were sentenced to death in a retrial of over 70 defendants accused in a 2012 soccer riot that left 74 people dead. An initial verdict in 2013 set off violent protests by fans in Cairo, who torched a police club and the soccer federation’s headquarters.
Since the 2012 stadium violence, authorities have sharply limited attendance at matches.
“Egyptian soccer clubs are hurting,” Dorsey said. “They’ve either not been playing for the last four years, or a good part of the past four years, or they’ve been doing it in empty stadia.”
Authorities said at least 19 people were killed in February when police fired tear gas into a crowd of fans waiting in a fenced, narrow corridor trying to enter a match. Many of the dead suffocated or were crushed.


Iraq must not be dragged into another regional war: president

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May shakes hands with Iraq’s President Barham Salih in London, Britain June 25, 2019. (The Presidency of the Republic of Iraq Office/Reuters)
Updated 21 min 40 sec ago
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Iraq must not be dragged into another regional war: president

  • ‘We cannot afford our country to be dragged into conflict’
  • Saleh said Baghdad’s priority was ‘stability’

LONDON: Iraqi President Barham Salih said Wednesday his country must not be dragged into another conflict in the Middle East, as tensions rise over its neighbor Iran.
“We have had four decades of challenge and turmoil. We do not want to be embroiled in another war,” he said at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs think-tank in London.
“We cannot afford our country to be dragged into conflict.”
With tensions high between Iran and the United States, Salih insisted his country would not become “a staging post for belligerents.”
“We are asking everybody to cool it down... enough is enough,” he said.
“We do not want to be a victim of a conflict in Middle East. We have not finished the last one,” the Iraqi president added, referring to the US-led war on terror and battle against Daesh.
“It is in our national interests to have good relationship with Iran,” he said, whilst adding: “The US is a very important partner for Iraq.”
Salih, who took office in October, said Baghdad’s priority was “stability.”
“We need to transform Iraq from a zone of regional and proxy conflict into a zone of trade, infrastructure development, and jobs and a future for young people,” the 58-year-old said.
Salih visited British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday for talks on security cooperation and nation-building.
May said Britain “stood ready to provide further support” to the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, her Downing Street office said.