Egyptian MP says Israel is responsible for soccer match riot
Egyptian member of parliament, Mustafa Bakri, accuses Israel, the U.S. and Egypt’s former regime of stirring up trouble throughout the country, and blames them for the Port Said soccer riot last week that claimed the lives of 74 people • Bakri says Egypt is entering a state of anarchy.
Israel Hayom Staff
Egyptian member of parliament Mustafa Bakri accuses Israel and others of fomenting anarchy in Egypt.
Photo credit: Youtube.com
Egyptian lawmaker Mustafa Bakri on Thursday said that Israel, the U.S. and Egypt’s former regime were responsible for the riot at a Port Said soccer match on Wednesday that left 74 people dead and more than 1,000 injured.
The riot prompted fans and politicians to turn against the ruling military council for failing to prevent the incident, the deadliest since former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February 2011.
At the end of the soccer match, fans stormed the field, even though local team al-Masry had beaten the visitors from Cairo, Al-Ahly, Egypt’s most successful club.
A report by the Egyptian Sawt Al-Sha’b TV channel showed Bakri lashing out at the U.S., Israel and Egypt’s former regime, condemning all three. The footage of Bakri speaking to parliament members also appears on the MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) website.
Bakri claimed that Egypt is entering a stage of anarchy, and said, “Look at the new Middle East scheme. Don’t talk about all the minute details. What happened in Port Said is a continuation of what happened in Muhammad Mahmoud street, in Al-Qasr Al-Ayni street, across from the government, across from Maspero [the radio and TV building in Cairo] and in the soccer match against Tunisia. They are all connected. It is an attempt to bring this country down.“
The post-match pitch invasion provoked panic among the crowd as rival fans fought. Most of the deaths were among people who were trampled in the crush of the crowd or who fell or were thrown from terraces, witnesses and health workers said. Television footage showed some security officers in the stadium showing no sign of trying to stop fans from storming the field. One officer was filmed talking on a mobile phone as people poured onto the field.
The two soccer teams, al-Masry and Al-Ahly, have a history of fierce rivalry. Witnesses said fighting began after Al-Ahly fans unfurled banners insulting Port Said and one fan descended to the pitch carrying an iron bar at the end of the match. Al-Masry fans poured onto the pitch and attacked Al-Ahly players before turning to the terraces to attack rival supporters.
“I saw people holding machetes and knives. Some were hit with these weapons, other victims were thrown from their seats while the invasion happened,” Usama El Tafahni, a journalist in Port Said who attended the match, told Reuters.
Many fans died in the subsequent stampede, while some were thrown from the stands and were killed by the fall. At the height of the disturbances, rioting fans fired flares straight into the stands.
A day after the riot occurred, angry politicians denounced the lack of security at the match and blamed military leaders for allowing, or even causing, the tragedy. The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that dominates parliament, saw an “invisible” hand at work.
After the incident, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the state television building and marches across the capital were planned.
Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, 76, who heads the ruling military council, took the unusual step of speaking by telephone to a television channel, vowing to track down the culprits. The army announced three days of national mourning.
But it did little to assuage the anger of fans, who, like many Egyptians, are furious that Egypt is still plagued by lawlessness and frequent bouts of deadly violence almost a year since Mubarak was driven out and replaced by an army council.
“The people want the execution of the field marshal,” fans chanted at the station where some injured disembarked. “We will secure their rights, or die like them,” they said of the dead, as covered bodies were unloaded from the trains.
“The security forces did this or allowed it to happen. The men of Mubarak are still ruling. The head of the regime has fallen but all his men are still in their positions,” Albadry Farghali, a member of parliament for Port Said, screamed in a telephone call on live television.