Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 8 February 2012

Mubarak's state machine blamed for football massacre

David Johnson , Socialist Party

Seventy-four football fans were killed and hundreds injured after the final whistle blew at the al-Masry versus al-Ahly match in Port Said on 1 February. Many had head wounds, some had been stabbed, some thrown from the stands and others crushed in the panic as they tried to escape the erupting violence. Why did this horror take place?

The head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, described the bloodshed as "something that can happen anywhere in the world." But it is clear that this was anything but 'normal' football violence. Demonstrations across Egypt in the days since have blamed Scaf.

The hardcore fans of al-Ahly, a big Cairo club, are known as Ultras Ahlawy. The last time this match took place, in April 2011, they were blamed for fighting and destruction in Port Said, home of al-Masry. The Ultras blamed lack of security for the violence.

A video of vandalism on that occasion was apparently circulating on the internet prior to this match, stoking up tension.

A fixture with this history would normally have a strong police presence to separate home and away fans and prevent trouble developing. So why did the security forces stationed between their stands depart during the match?

"Hundreds would storm the pitch after every goal, so we could sense what was going to happen," reported an eyewitness. "There was a huge lapse in security. The police non-intervention was very strange - there was practically no security outside the stadium and inside it they didn't do anything when events escalated." (Guardian 3/2/12)

People reported seeing knives and swords outside the stadium yet people were not searched on their way in. It also appears that exits were locked.

Port Said residents condemned the attacks on al-Ahly fans and maintain that the attackers were not local. "We were surprised by buses coming from out of town carrying supporters wearing the shirts of al-Masry Ultras," said one. (Guardian 3/2/12)

Following the horrific events seven protest marches, with over 20,000 taking part, were held on Friday 3 February in this city of 600,000. The size of these demonstrations far exceeded those of January and February 2011, which had been on a smaller scale than in many other cities. Many protest marches took place in other cities around the country, holding Scaf responsible for the events.

Fans against regime

Why should Scaf want to see Ultras Ahlawy attacked? The mostly young and working class fans played a crucial role during the Tahrir Square uprising, not least during the 'Battle of the Camel' on 2 February 2011 when they heroically fought off a brutal attempt to crush the developing revolution.

In September 2011 al-Ahly fans had been attacked by security forces after chanting slogans against Mubarak and his Interior minister, al-Adly, whose trial for killing protesters had begun, and against the police.

A few days later a united march of fans from the three big Cairo clubs took place, putting aside their normal rivalry, protesting against security forces' violence.

Despite the normally heavy policing of the Ultras, on that occasion a breakaway march to the Israeli embassy went unchallenged, and there were virtually no security forces around as the embassy was attacked. This conveniently allowed Scaf to divert attention away from the crimes of the security forces to the crimes of the Israeli government.

Ultras Ahlawy also played a prominent part in the battles against security forces' repression at the Interior Ministry last November. They were in the front line again in December, outside the Cabinet Office, protesting against Scaf's appointment of Kamal el-Ganzouri as prime minister, who had held the same post from 1996-99 under Mubarak. Ultras Ahlawy have been punished for their record of opposition to the regime.

It seems that Scaf also deliberately allowed violence to take place at the al-Masry stadium to fuel insecurity and chaos, strengthening those who say that only the armed forces can save Egypt from descending into lawlessness.

On the eve of the anniversary of the 25 January 2011 uprising, Tantawi announced the lifting of Mubarak's long-standing emergency laws except in cases of "thuggery". How strange that this terrible example of 'thuggery' should occur a week later!

Thug forces

At the same time as this football stadium massacre, 800 protestors, both Muslim and Coptic, camped in front of Nagaa Hammadi police station protesting at the killing of a Coptic trader and his son for refusing to pay protection money to thugs associated with police officers.

There have been many other occasions when police and security forces have viciously attacked those opposing them. After a Coptic church had been burnt last October, a protest at the Maspero TV centre was lethally attacked by security forces, killing 28.

And in the days after the Port Said violence there were further pitched battles in Cairo and elsewhere. Tear gas, birdshot and live ammunition were used, leading to five deaths in Cairo and seven in Suez, with 1,500 injured. Mubarak's security forces are still intact, even if their old boss is held in jail during his trial.

Students at Cairo University and the German University in Cairo have announced a strike on 11 February, the anniversary of Mubarak's ousting. They are demanding that Scaf hand over power to a civilian government and the prosecution of those responsible for the Port Said massacre.

Students should call on the trade unions to join them, to demand the newly elected parliament immediately take power from Scaf.

But workers and youth can have no confidence that this parliament will take measures in their interests. Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafist and pro-business liberal parties that make parliament's big majority will put the interests of big business first.

Workers, the poor masses and the youth need their own party. With a programme of socialist change, including genuine democratic control over all security and policing, it could win mass support and lead the way to a society without the state-sponsored brutality seen this past week.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 8 February 2012:

Socialist Party NHS campaigning

Save the NHS!

Prince Philip Hospital Llanelli: We can defeat cuts plans

Kingston Hospital: Save all NHS jobs

Socialist Party news and analysis

London - a tale of two cities

Exploiting the unemployed to line the pockets of big business

Safe railways, not shopping malls

Them & Us

Socialist Party youth and students

Students drop out of college without EMA

Leeds Trinity students fight canteen cuts

New society at Leeds College

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Scrap the Welfare Reform Bill

Tactics to stop racist EDL

Manchester Sure Starts saved!

Tower Hamlets: Save Rushmead one stop shop - fight all cuts

Salford campaign saves day care centres

Defend care services in Medway

International socialist news and analysis

Mubarak's state machine blamed for football massacre

Socialist Party workplace news

UCU special conference

Reinstate sacked PCS steward, John Brookes!

The scandalous role of London Unison - Demand that it defends Len Hockey!

Striking oil tanker drivers demand meaningful talks

Workplace news in brief

The Socialist - reviews & readers' comments

Tory policies hit women hardest

We need fighting trade unions

Review: Borgen - politics and crime in Denmark


Home   |   The Socialist 8 February 2012   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleEgypt: Support for al-Sisi dwindles as his regime increases repression

triangleEgypt: Street protests challenge Trump's favourite dictator

triangleCounter-revolution in Sudan

triangleExclusive interview with Gazan activist: "The more they kill us, the more the anger increases"

triangleTrump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict


triangleFootball: Smash racism

triangleEngland football team

trianglePodcast: Football - Reclaim the Game

triangleNo trust in billionaire football owners - kick them out and reclaim the game


triangleBristol: Police to blame for protest violence

triangleDalian Atkinson - police found guilty of killing ex-footballer

triangleCan Biden reform the police?





In brief: News, reports & analysis from the CWI



Israel: Hospital ancillary workers' strike suspended



Cuban protests - what do they represent?



South Africa: Build working class unity for way forward for all



Germany: Flood disaster affects hundreds of thousands


Latin America

New wave of radicalisation in Latin America



Putting the Olympic gravy train ahead of public health



Kazakhstan: Solidarity with protesters attacked by regime forces



Kazakhstan: Nur Otan regime attacks peaceful protest



Israel: Hospital ancillary workers strike over pay parity and workload



The Israeli working class



Israel: Hospital ancillary workers strike over pay parity and workload



German Greens: The image and reality



Are Biden's immigration policies a break with Trump's?



Iran's presidential election

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

July 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021