By Heba Hesham
CAIRO: Ultras Ahlawy, Ahly soccer team’s fan club, blocked the October 6 Bridge Wednesday in protest of what they described as attempts by authorities to end their ongoing sit-in in front of parliament.
The Ultras started their sit-in on March 25 calling for the rights of the martyrs who died in the Port Said football melee.
On Feb. 1, clashes that followed a league match between Ahly and home team Al-Masry in the coastal city of Port Said left over 70 people dead.
Hundreds of Ultras organized a march that took off at 2 pm from the headquarters of the Ahly club in the Zamalek neighborhood and headed to parliament.
Ultras’ leaders and members blocked off the October 6 Bridge for two hours, echoing messages to the government, the interior ministry and the military rulers that they will continue their fight to get the rights of their friends who were killed in Port Said.
Minor scuffles broke out between protesters and drivers on the bridge.
“We have rights to call for, and we don’t think of personal gains. All what we want is retribution for the martyrs,” said Ramy Ahmed, one of the leaders of the Ultras.
Ahmed added that the court session that is scheduled for April 17 is not the end of their struggle. “It is only the start; we won’t stop or end our sit-in until we get the full rights of the martyrs.”
Ultras leaders said that the march was organized in coordination with marches in more than 16 other governorates in North and South Egypt, to call for swift trials and retribution for the martyrs after two months have passed after the massacre.
“Slow justice is deliberate injustice, so we decided to hold rallies in most of Egypt’s provinces to call for clear and legitimate demands,” the Ultras said in a statement published online.
The Prosecutor General has charged 75, including nine police officers with murder and negligence for assisting the attack on the Ahly fans. Some Port Said residents have claimed that hired outsiders were responsible for much of the violence.
The Ultras’ statement demanded speedy trials for those involved in the massacre, stressing that a slow ruling would ignite strife among all parties. The statement also called for cleansing the Ministry of Interior of corrupt leaders who were “the driving force behind the Port Said massacre to get back at the Ultras for their role in the revolution.”
The statement added that defendants in the case that are affiliated to ministry should be imprisoned.
According to Ahmed, the interior ministry is trying to bargain with the Ultras members, persuading them to end their sit-in in front of the parliament and in exchange they would secure the game Ahly is playing next Sunday.
“The interior ministry wants to create a state of hostility between us and other fans of Ahly because some of the defendants in the case are officials in the ministry. It wants to punish Ahly and its audience for demanding the martyrs’ rights, although our sit-in is peaceful with the testimony of all the public figures who stood in solidarity with our demands,” the Ultras’ group said in the online statement.
Mahmoud Mokhtar, one of Ahly’s fans who does not belong to the Ultras, said that he and other fans participated in the march to show solidarity with the Ultras and the families of the martyrs, echoing their claims that the interior ministry wants to punish them because they “dared to criticize it.”
Mokhtar added that he believes that the fact finding committee that was formed by the People’s Assembly to investigate the massacre was not objective.
“There are two MPs from Port Said in this committee, they would certainly hide some facts that might harm their city,” he said.
Port Said MPs have attempted to broker a peace between Al-Masry fans and their Ahly counterparts.
However, El-Badry Farghaly, MP from the coastal city, previously told Daily News Egypt that he and his colleagues respect the rights of the martyrs and will submit to any verdict given by the presiding judge.
In Port Said, a 16-year-old boy was killed and over 60 were injured last month when security forces clashed with angry Al-Masry fans who protested against the decision to suspend their club.
According to Reuters, military police fired shots in the air to disperse hundreds of soccer fans protesting outside the Suez Canal Authority building in Port Said late March 23. Clashes continued for few days.
Ultras Ahlawy members started the march outside Al-Ahly Club. (Daily News Egypt Photo/Hassan Ibrahim)