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Egypt court renews the detention of 2 Zamalek football fans on ‘terror’ charges

May 23, 2023 at 11:15 am

Fans of Al Ahly and Zamalek cheer at tribune during the Egyptian Super Cup final match between Zamalek and Al Ahly at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on October 28, 2022 [Waleed Zein/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

Egypt’s Supreme State Security court has renewed the detention of two Zamalek football fans charged with “joining a terror group.”

Lawyer Mokhtar Mounir told Mada Masr that the two fans were accused of trying to “revive the ultras” and yet there was no evidence against them.

The Ultras White Knights is an association of Zamalek Football fans known for their role in the January 2011 revolution when they were on the front line of the protests.

Due to their participation in the uprising there is a history of animosity between the fan group, who appear to have been targeted in revenge attacks, and security forces.

In February 2015 police fired teargas and shotgun pellets at them as they entered the Air Defence stadium. Police kettled the supporters into a 12-foot-wide corridor and closed the barricades so they could not escape.

Twenty of the Zamalek fans died but were later accused of “setting up an illegal group with the aim of sabotaging the constitution.”

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The White Knights described it as a “premeditated massacre.”

Three months later, a court in Cairo ordered that the ultras be dismantled and banned all their activities.

Then Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat accused the Zamalek fan club of receiving money from the Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed in Egypt as a terror group, and of committing “acts of rioting and violence.”

The Ultras White Knights have also been smeared by the pro-regime Mortada Mansour, the chairman of Zamalek and an MP under former longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak.

“They are not fans, they are criminals,” he told the Guardian in 2015. “They are using bombs, live ammunition, and shotgun pellets. And last week they threw acid at me. But I continue because this is a part of the nation’s battle against terrorism.”

The ultras say it was not acid but a bag of urine.

There are some 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt who are systematically tortured and denied medical care.

Many have been added to “terror” lists and have had their assets frozen and been banned from travelling.