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21 February, 2012

A Trap For Football Fans

There is no question that had there been an airtight plan to ensure that no clashes would take place, this plan would have been implemented and this carnage avoided.

One of my childhood friends buried her son yesterday. He was 22. His name was Omar. He had his whole life ahead of him. No one could have imagined that Omar, like over 70 other Ahly club fans, was going to return from a football game in a coffin.

According to news reports, some of the victims were trampled in the stampede but others died of stab wounds and locally-manufactured pistols. An eyewitness told this newspaper that even when they tried to flee the stadium, Al-Ahly fans were trapped because all the exits were closed by army personnel from the outside. The crowds of fleeing victims had to push open the gates. That’s when many were crushed as they heaved their last breath. Others were tossed to their death off the top of the bleachers.

There is no question that had there been an airtight plan to ensure that no clashes would take place, this plan would have been implemented and this carnage avoided. This was no episode of football hooliganism. Egypt’s supreme leader Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi said it all. In the only remarks by SCAF since the massacre, Tantawi dismissed the incident as “something that can happen anywhere in the world” adding insult to injury by practically inciting citizens when he encouraged “ordinary Egyptians” to take action against those who did this.

The bottom line is that 74 innocent youths were brutally murdered on your watch, General. Why and how this happened, is either one of two scenarios: That SCAF has failed to secure a football match, let alone a whole country; or that the Generals are complicit, and, as it has become abundantly clear over the past year, they are punishing Egyptians for the revolution and for speaking out against them. Either case, the Generals bear a moral and political responsibility for this crime.

How can they justify their blatant incompetence when throughout two months of highly competitive elections, they managed to secure thousands of polling stations across Egypt’s provinces ensuring zero incidents of violence? SCAF apologists claim that it is not the Generals’ responsibility to oversee every nook and cranny in the country, since they have handed over full authorities to Cabinet, cancelled emergency law (supposedly to protect human rights unless you happen to be a “thug”); and since the People’s Assembly is in session.

This theory cannot be further from the truth. SCAF is responsible. They carry the same level of responsibility that justifies taking Mubarak to court. If not, why then is SCAF refusing to open the registration for presidential elections candidacy, even if merely to absolve themselves of responsibility and to prove to the people and to their elected assembly that they do not wish to manipulate the drafting of the new constitution and maintain power from behind the scenes?

As I write this, the third wave of Egypt’s ongoing revolution is underway across the nation. Clashes between protesters and police have claimed two lives in Suez and two in Cairo with over 1,400 injured, some with buckshot and rubber bullets.

The Generals have learned nothing, just like their former boss only days before his ouster.

As someone on Twitter aptly wrote: We didn’t have a revolution to oust Mubarak; we ousted Mubarak so we can have a revolution.

Will “Friday of the Martyr” mark the first day of Egypt’s final emancipation from military rule?


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