Ultras violence spreads, and Morsi runs out of answers

Issandr El Amrani writes: In the days that followed the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s revolutionaries feared the plots of the deep state: the military and political nomenklatura of the regime, deep-pocketed businessmen and security agencies conspiring to save what they could of a system tailor-made for them. It may turn out that the fear was misplaced. What Egypt suffers most from today is not plots hatched in the shadows, but a shallow state that is cracking on the surface.

In parts of the country, citizens are in open rebellion against that state, which has long failed to provide economically and, since the 2011 uprising, has largely failed to provide security. In recent weeks, the targets of often-violent protests have been administrative buildings, the offices of provincial governors and anything associated with the police.

What prompts these protests is often a sense of injustice, as in the now weeks-long turmoil that has hit the Suez Canal region and Port Said in particular. The spark may have been the death sentences handed out to 21 football supporters from the city for their role in the February 2012 stadium massacre. The sense of grievance, though, is wider and is obscuring the fact that football hooligans need to be held to account.

Like the droogs of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, some young Egyptian men seem to have grown fond to taking to the streets for some mindless ultra-violence. They may fancy themselves as freedom fighters, but they are bullies.

In Cairo, Ultras from Al Ahly, the leading Egyptian football team, have for weeks staged protests to block major thoroughfares and the metro system. They have used violence and intimidation. The torching of a police social club, the country’s association football federation, a fast-food restaurant and the offices of a newspaper on Saturday is the culmination of an environment in which these Ultras feel increasingly emboldened to act antisocially whenever they feel wronged. [Continue reading…]

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