More on Ultras, the Israeli embassy, and the Friday of not-exactly-putting-the-revolution-back-on-track

Steve Negus writes:

The only surprising thing about the breach of the Israeli embassy in Cairo is that it never happened any time before in the past 30 years. In a city that abounds in isolated walled desert compounds, someone decided to put the most often marched-upon facility in Egypt in a quite ordinary apartment building in the heart of the city, whose defenses basically consist of however much force the security services/army choose to deploy on the street that particular day. Throughout the 1990s, at least once a year, students from nearby Cairo University staged a half-hearted attempt to storm the place. The hardcore “Ultra” football club fans who seemed to be a major contingent of yesterday’s crowd may simply have been more persistant than your usual Cairo demonstrators — partially because the self-styled “commandos of the revolution” (whose subculture is described by Ursula below) are used to fighting with police, and partially because they claimed to have one of their own dead to avenge, supposedly killed on Tuesday night post-match battle between Ahly club fans and police on Saleh Salem Road that started when police charged the stands in response to taunting chants.

So, rather than being satisfied with a few hours of melee with the police and military, they kept up the battle until late into the night, until eventually some got inside the building and up to the reception area. Meanwhile, other protesters tried to storm the Giza security directorate, reportedly after a police car leaving the scene ran down two demonstrators. The deaths were a tragedy, but I don’t think that this quite constitutes an international crisis.

I was at the Tahrir demo earlier in the day, and although the Ultras were a heavy presence, and although small groups approached the nearby Interior Ministry from time to time, most of them responded pretty quickly to the “Peacefully! Peacefully!” chants from the crowd. In fact, part of the reason that the Ultras were there seemed to be that they wanted to be taken seriously as an aggrieved constituency — a huge banner reading “Ultras are not criminals!” hung in the square. Ultras in the crowd said that while they were used to demonstrating, today they came specifically on account of their own grievances: specifically, police brutality, and the referral of civilians to military trials. (Activists following the military trials says that military prosecutors tend to pick on working class kids who aren’t connected to one of the mainstream movement, so I’m guessing that includes a lot of Ultras.). “I used to come to Tahrir for the sake of the nation, but now for the first time I’m here as an Ultra,” one Ahli fan said.

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1 thought on “More on Ultras, the Israeli embassy, and the Friday of not-exactly-putting-the-revolution-back-on-track

  1. Eleonora

    To be meticulous: the Embassy was not attacked as in “attack” = like Israel did with the Mavi Marmara or with the 5 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai which were killed. They climbed the building and got down the flag. No shots fired, no force whatsoever used to do that. End of this story.

    The apartment on the lower floor which someone broke in was inofficially rented by the Israeli Embassy and was not part of the “extraterritorial” estate (= IL Embassy) which needs to be properly protected no doubt. Out from this apartment – which some describe as waiting area (!!) and others as purely an archive to stock papers until shredding time – documents were thrown out of the windows.

    It is claimed that the docs where in Hebrew – but surprisingly ordinary Egyptians read some of them out on the spot in front of the cameras. Imagine! Smart people, these ordinary Egyptians; many can hardly read Arabic – but hey!! they all speak Hebrew (!?).

    The Ministry of Interior burnt yesterday – that is, the 1st floor to be precise. Yes, that floor where all the evidence is stored. Strange, how normal protesters (which are naturally accused of setting it ablaze) knew that all evidence is stored there, got in the building, could go up to the 1st floor, set it on fire and leave the building unharmed. Chapeau to these guys … Reminds me very much of the revolution, when the National Democratic Party Building (Mubarak’s party BTW) burnt – from the top … but naturally it was the demonstrators down on Tahrir who did it …

    I agree that a number of events of past Friday are fishy and stink accordingly – like rotten fishes do. Sadly, the Military Council does not need anymore pretexts to crush the revolution. They do it in open daylight, with the approval and help of the US, the EU and IL. Mubarakistan without Mubarak. The best solution for all – except for the people naturally. But did they ever count?

    To put the “conspiracy theories” to rest – have a look at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aqf5t37mE2s, where you see one incident of the “thugs” descending from the trucks of the state security and entering the back of the Egyptian Museum early Friday morning. I do admire that they are soooo eager to learn their history and don’t mind to get up so early. On top of it they don’t mind to choose such an uncomfortable transport. Hats off!

    Egypt needs the real revolution – soooooon!!

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