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Adel Abdallah
عادل عبدالله
Adel Abdallah was born in Ismailia in 1985 and has worked at several publications, including: ‘Al-Watany Al-Youm,’ ‘Rotana’, ‘Al-Masaa’, ‘Al-Kura’ and ‘Al-Malaeb’. He also worked for ‘Al-Iqtisadiya’. He currently edits the blogs ‘Al-Wafd’ and ‘Citiesnews,’ and writes for Ahlan website. He is a representative for a British publishing company in Cairo and he volunteers as a media coordinator for several NGOs.

The Final Judgement

Al-Ahly Ultra supporters demanded justice for those killed in Port Said's stadium last year.
The Final Judgement
The verdict of the football disaster in Port Said, which left 74 people dead, is met with anticipation and more threats.
25/1/2013 | Port Said

While squares fill-up to mark the second anniversary of Egypt’s Arab Spring uprising, which ousted long-term president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, activists are eagerly awaiting the curtains to fall on the drama surrounding the Port Said disaster almost a year ago.

On February 2, 2012 seventy-four people were killed and 1,000 injured following a football match in Port Said between the Al Masry and Al Ahly teams; thousands of alleged Al Masry fans stormed the field and attacked players and fans from the other team.

On Wednesday evening, the day before the anniversary, hundreds of activists belonging to Ultras Green Eagles (fans of Al Masry and active in the revolution) began assembling and blocking the Cairo metro according to Ahram Online.

There are 73 defendants in the case, including governorate security leaders. Ultra members have reportedly warned of escalated demonstrations should there be an unfavorable verdict.

Debate on the judgment delivery

The court has decided to issue its decision in Cairo due to security reasons, a matter that had raised controversy. “We swear by God that we will set fire to Port Said,” said the mother of Ashraf Tarek Diab, one of the defendants, expressing her fear that her 15 year-old son, if taken from his detention at Port Fuad police station to Cairo, in order to attend the sentencing hearing, may be exposed to danger; the Ultras, having mobilized activities prior to the court decision, have made their motives clear, evidenced by the slogan written on foundations and walls: “Penalty or chaos and blood.”

According to the defendants' attorney, Ashraf Elezabi, the judges, the defendants, their defense counsels and parents are exposed to danger. He quotes the Ultras-Ahlawi statement and holds all the concerned bodies, including the presidency, accountable for the potential battle that he believes will be just as violent as the stadium massacre itself, should defendants are moved to Cairo.

Elezabi recalls previous court sessions by the Ultras and victims' families whose reactions reached the point of stoning and beating them with shoes, which pushed him a session last November to submit a request based on legal articles denying the court the right to summon the defendants to the sentencing hearing if they enjoy their total defense right.

Elezabi and the defendants' families have underlined their contentment with the court decision to be made, and their full trust that the defendants are innocent even if the request of concerned political forces, the defendants' families and the defense, of keeping the defendants in Port Said is denied.

Port Said is not guilty

Most Port Said residents refuse attributing the accusation to the city. "Port Said," said Abdo Yusuf, a company owner, "will be a burial ground for all those trying to tarnish its reputation as it has always been for all invaders throughout history." Ramadan Abulma’ati, an eyewitness of the massacre, believes that the massacre is an aforethought conspiracy waived by anonymous parties, and that Ghazl El Mahalla stadium last year was the stage on which its rehearsal was presented but successfully controlled by security forces.

Sheikh Gamal Rizk, Al-Mizan Mosque imam, Mohamed Asfor, head of Al Masry Ultras, and a number of defendants' mothers talk about Port Said people’s good morals with which they receive all visitors, and that the utmost they may do if offended is beating and verbal insult, according to Muhammad Ali, a taxi driver, but not professional murder.

Hisham Jabari, Professor at Sports Education College, Port Said University says the massacre has nothing to do with football hooliganism; rather, he claims there is an anonymous party responsible, or the “the third party”.

The Third Party

Who is that party to which all attribute most the revolution's crimes? Port Said residents accuse the Muslim Brotherhood; Asfor considers them the beneficiary of the current chaos.  Dr. Akram Elshaer, a member of parliament, refutes such accusations, stressing that whoever has evidence against the Brotherhood should submit it to the Attorney General and be responsible for his notification.

Accusations of being the third party have been also been leveled against the police. Elshaer puts security services under accusation given that they have brought the defendants to court in an excessively quick manner in response to Ultras-Ahly pressures without elaborate investigations. Mother of defendant Ahmad Adel accuses the police of playing the most important role in the conspiracy since policemen, as she says, are who closed the exits, preventing the victims from going out.

Re-starting the games

The Port Said massacre is not a mere violent clash between two Ultras groups. The Egyptian Premiers League schedule rests on the court decision. Despite the government resolutions to resume the league in early February, many believe that the league is not to be continued if the Ultras groups decide otherwise.

Al Masry’s Club Board of Directors, according to its member Muhammad Kholi, has decided that the team will not participate in the current season in order to de-escalate the situation and in respect of the victims’ families; a decision that has been welcomed by the Ultras audience. “The blood of the killed people is more important than the league and even though it is the source of income for thousands of families, those will not accept to live at the expense of Egyptians blood,” Elshaer said.


According to Elezabi, the sentencing hearing to be held on Saturday may be adjourned due to the circumstances of the revolution’s second anniversary, and even if a decision has been issued, it will certainly not satisfy both parties and consequently will not be conclusive, since both parties have the right to appeal and cassation (annulment).

According to Rizk, a lull can be achieved by issuing a compromising decision. Famous media figure Muhammad Hamamsi stresses that adjourning the session for two months will ease tension.  Al-Wasat Party in Port Said has declared an initiative for appeasement and has been joined by Al-Nour Party, as Hegazi said.

As Port Said residents refuse to attribute the accusation to their city in general or suffer more marginalization and hope that the jurisprudence fairly decides, Port Said is overwhelmed by anticipation and fear pending the court’s final decision.


Image: MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images