An Egyptian court on Saturday banned the diehard football fan groups, known as "The Ultras," across the country, a judicial source has said.
"Cairo's Court for Urgent Matters banned the activities of 'ultras' groups across the country after accepting an appeal filed by the head of the Zamalek football club against an earlier ruling in a lawsuit seeking the ban of such groups," the source, requesting anonymity, told Anadolu Agency.
A preliminary court had ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to look into a lawsuit filed by Zamalek board chairman Mortada Mansour for banning the "Ultras" groups. The ruling comes just hours after a Cairo court handed down more than 100 death sentences in two trials relating to a mass jailbreak in 2011 and allegations of espionage. Egypt's first democratically elected President the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi was among those sentenced.
Saturday's verdict against the Ultras is subject to appeal.
"Ultras White Knights," diehard Zamalek fans, have recently been at odds with Mansour over a ban on fans attending Zamalek matches.
Egyptian authorities have banned fans from attending football games, citing ongoing tension between security forces and Ultras groups since a 2012 stadium disaster in Port Said in which at least 73 football fans were killed. The ultras blame the police for the incident, with some even going as far as to call the incident a “premeditated murder,” orchestrated by the police to punish the football supporters for their involvement in the 2011 revolution that overthrow former President Hosni Mubarak.
Organised groups of diehard football fans based on the model of Italian Ultras or English Hooligans are relatively new to Egypt. The first group was created in 2007 by al-Ahly fans - Egypt’s most successful team - who had lived abroad and returned to Cairo.
“The sense of community that Ultras share lies in the passion for the sport, the passion for the club and the hatred towards police forces,” Professor James Dorsey of the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore told MEE in a recent interview.
In the last four years of Mubarak’s rule, tens of thousands of people joined Ultras groups. They all came from different areas, social classes and backgrounds, but “what they really wanted was to come down on security forces. They share the passion for the game and for the club, but the face of the regime to them were the security forces,” said Dorsey.
Translation: The hasty verdict to call members of the Ultras as terrorists, in addition to the Muslim Brotherhood, makes half of all Egyptians terrorists. This way Egypt is the mother of the world in terrorism!
By James M. Dorsey Fighting in the Caucasus between Azerbaijan and Armenia is about much more than deep-seated ethnic divisions and territorial disputes. It’s the latest clash designed, at least in part, to shape a new world order. The stakes for Azerbaijan, backed if not egged on by Turkey, are high as the Azeri capital’s Baku International Sea Trade Port seeks to solidify its head start in its competition with Russian, Iranian, Turkmen and Kazakh Caspian Sea harbours, to be a key node in competing Eurasian transport corridors. Baku is likely to emerge as the Caspian’s largest trading port. An Azeri success in clawing back some Armenian-occupied areas of Azerbaijan, captured by Armenia in the early 1990s, would bolster Baku’s bid to be the Caspian’s premier port at the crossroads of Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The Caspian is at the intersection of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) from China to Europe via Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia a
Credit: Southfront Second Karabakh War as Cause or Consequence? James M. Dorsey Populated at the time by fluent Hebrew speakers, the Israel desk of Armenia’s foreign ministry waited back in 1991— in the immediate wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union—for a phone call that never came. The ministry was convinced that Israel, with whom Armenia shared an experience of genocide, were natural allies. The ministry waited in vain. Israel never made the call. That shared experience could not compete with Armenia’s Turkic nemesis, Azerbaijan, with which it was at war over Nagorno‑Karabakh, a majority ethnic‑Armenian enclave on Azerbaijani territory. “The calculation was simple. Azerbaijan has three strategic assets that Israel is interested in: Muslims, oil, and several thousand Jews. All Armenia has to offer is at best several hundred Jews,” said an Israeli official at the time. Azerbaijan had one more asset: close political, security, and energy ties to Turkey, which was suppo
By James M. Dorsey Punching above its weight, the United Arab Emirates is wielding a combination of religious soft power, commercial and economic sway, and hard power in its bid to counter political Islam in ways that potentially could threaten pillars of Western democracy as well as US and European strategic interests. The UAE’s footprint is visible across the globe, most recently in France, the latest arena in what amounts to a battle for the soul of Islam , as well as in US disclosures about the nature of Emirati intervention in Libya. The UAE and Saudi Arabia appear to have been lobbying for a tougher French policy towards political Islam prior to the crackdown initiated by President Emmanuel Macron in the wake of the gruesome killing of a schoolteacher in September and subsequent attacks, including on a church in Nice. The lobbying, emphasizing common interests in countering political Islam and Turkey, with which France is at odds in Libya and the eastern Mediterranean