Egypt’s trust deficit

Jess Hill writes: The violence in Port Said was sudden and barbaric. Minutes after the final whistle blew, the bleacher doors were flung open, and thousands of people stormed the pitch. Witnesses say men in dirty street clothes chased fans of the Al-Ahly team with knives and metal bars, bashing them in the head. One young Al-Ahly fan, dressed in the red-and-white colours of his favourite team, had his eyes gouged out. Two sisters, both just days shy of being married, were killed. The stadium lights were cut, and panicked fans suffocated as they were crushed against locked gates by stampeding crowds.

Seventy-four Egyptians died in Port Said last week. Who is responsible? Why did riot police simply watch on as people were beaten and stabbed? Was it a set-up, planned by the security forces? Are Egypt’s military rulers to blame? Or was it merely permitted by police in revenge against Al-Ahly fans, the Ultras, who played a pivotal role in last year’s uprisings?

A parliamentary fact-finding committee is investigating the deaths, but the results won’t matter. Egyptians all over the country believe the authorities planned it. As far as they’re concerned, the proof is in the eyewitness videos and accounts, and in the precedent: The Ministry of Interior has been torturing and killing Egyptians for decades. For many Egyptians, there’s no reason to believe this would be a step too far.

That’s because essentially the Ministry of Interior is the same institution it was under former President Hosni Mubarak. And while Egyptians still believe that the country’s security forces are capable of planning the massacre of innocent football fans, Egypt has no chance of stability. [Continue reading…]

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