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Inside Story
Is Egypt's football tragedy a conspiracy?
We ask if the latest deaths during a football match is a sign of deteriorating security a year after the revolution.
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2012 08:31

Egypt is in shock after yet another act of violence on Thursday, this time deaths in a football stadium serving as a bloody reminder of deteriorating security in the country.

Egypt has started three days of official mourning following its worst ever sporting tragedy.

At least 74 people were killed when supporters of two of Egypt's biggest football clubs, Al Ahly and Al Masry, invaded the pitch. More than 1,000 fans were injured.

"Some people died in the stampede but a lot of them died of stab wounds, or shot by locally-made pistols. Usually in big football matches there is a metal detector at the gate and all fans are searched for weapons. Footage also shows security personnel in full gear standing still as people stormed the field and started attacking the players and fans of Al-Ahly. Usually the governor of Port Said and the head of security attend big football matches but not yesterday. This is weird."

- Wael Abbas, journalist/political activist

Politicians denounced the attacks, blaming military leaders for allowing the deadliest incident since last year's revolution.

Meanwhile hundreds of Egyptians took the streets angry at the increasing lawlessness that they feel is plaguing the country.

Field Marshall Tantawi, the head of Egypt's ruling army council, was quick to respond vowing that the country will not be destabilised.

Almost a year since Hosni Mubarak was ousted as president and replaced by the military council, Egypt has seen frequent bouts of deadly violence.

Last October, 24 people were killed in clashes between Coptic Christians and security forces. Angry Egyptians lay the blame on the military and security forces.

Two months later, security forces opened fire on protesters in Tahrir Square demanding an end to the military's grip on power. The clashes left more than 40 people dead and scores more injured.

In December 2011, protesters held a sit-in outside the cabinet building. Military forces violently dispersed the gathering, killing at least 17 people.

Most recently, in an incident almost unheard of in Egypt, a branch of the HSBC bank was robbed with money taken from its safe. Seven gunmen fired randomly into the air, but no serious injuries were reported.

So, who is to blame for Thursday football stadium deaths? And was this a spontaneous act of hooliganism, or an organised conspiracy?

Inside Story, with presenter James Bays, discusses with guests: Wael Abbas, a journalist and political activist; and Sameh Al-Anani, a sports talk show presenter.

"Everybody now is convinced that yesterday's violence was not related to the soccer game. We have seen a lot of violence in similar games over the years and all were related to soccer violence and not to killing people in an organised way. I think everybody is to blame for this. This [attack] was intended and it was really organised."

- Sameh Al-Anani, sports talkshow host

Source:
Al Jazeera
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