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Egypt: Scores of football-fans arrested on stadium massacre anniversary

In 2012, 74 members of the group were barbarically slaughtered in Port Said [AFP]

Date of publication: 2 February, 2017

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Security forces have arrested at least 80 members of Ultras Ahlawy on the fifth anniversary of the Port Said stadium tragedy, which left 74 fans dead in 2012.

At least 80 members of the Ahly Football Club's hardcore fan group were arrested on Wednesday, on the fifth anniversary of the Port Said stadium tragedy, local media reported.

Most of those arrested were rounded up by security forces from locations close to the Ahly Club's stadium in the Cairo neighbourhood of Zamalek, while others were arrested from Dokki and nearby metro stations, lawyer Mokhtar Mounir told Egyptian website Mada Masr.

"It is not yet clear if those who were arrested will be released or detained," he said, adding that numbers are increasing with ongoing raids and arrests.

The football fan group, known as Ultras Ahlawy, had announced on Tuesday evening that they would not officially commemorate the anniversary of the 2012 football tragedy, when 74 members of the group were slaughtered in the Suez Canal city of Port Said after rioting broke out by home fans.

The announcement came after a number of members, now in police custody, received threats from security forces that they would meet the "same fate" as their fellow fans, according to a statement on the group's Facebook page.

"We have been subjected to direct threats over the last few days, warning us not to be present at Ahly Club on the anniversary, and told that whoever shows up will likely face the same fate as the Ahly martyrs. They began by arresting members from their homes," the club's statement read.

The Interior Ministry had previously suggested fans could commemorate the anniversary at Fustat Park in Cairo if they wished to, an offer they did not accept.

The government refuses to allow public commemorations of martyrs in public spaces, lawyer Mounir said, and has sought to prevent them from taking place, as evidenced by the arrest of five members from their homes ahead of the anniversary.

Tensions have been ongoing between Ultras and the authorities for years, with fans claiming security forces have a vendetta against them for their role in mobilising for the 25 January revolution that ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

In May 2015, a Cairo court banned Ultras groups, declaring them terrorist organisations, after Zamalek football club chief and MP Mortada Mansour accused them of attempting to kill him and barred them from entering the club.

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