Middle East

Egyptian press shocked at football violence

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Media captionFootage showed debris, shoes and clothes abandoned inside the stadium

Egypt's newspapers reflect the nation's state of shock at the football violence which claimed the lives of at least 74 people and left over 150 injured in the coastal city of Port Said on Wednesday.

Fans of the home side al-Masry invaded the pitch to celebrate their victory over Cairo-based Al-Ahly, leading to violent clashes amid what some papers saw as an almost total absence of police.

Some Egyptian newspapers published on 2 February said that this violence was a "telling sign of the lack of security" in the country. Others described the situation as a punishment for football fans for their participation in the 25 January revolution, while some users took to social media to describe the events as a "crime".

Egypt has announced three days of national mourning.

Heinous punishment

Privately-owned daily newspaper Al-Shuruq led with colour front-page photos of the violence and the headline "Massacre in Port Said", with one image captioned "Unjustified lack of security allowed the fans to storm the pitch".

Inside, the paper featured opinions from Egyptian political figures and celebrities on the incident. Presidential hopeful Hamdin Sabahi told the paper: "What happened yesterday in Port Said was a heinous punishment on the fans of Al-Ahly for their participation in the revolution." Columnist Hasan al-Mistikawi called the Port Said football ground the "Pitch of Death" and wrote: "This is an assassination crime; assassination of citizens and the game. What happened in Port Said is a disaster and has nothing to do with sport."

The Al-Misri Al-Yawm newspaper headlined its front page story "The chaos scenario", calling the events a "black day in Egyptian football history". The paper quoted another presidential hopeful, Abd-al-Mun'im Abu-al-Futuh, as saying: "We won't allow the punishment of fans for their participation in Cairo's Tahrir protests."

Ayman Abu-Ayad of the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper called for the immediate suspension of the football league, saying: "We should be aware of the critical situation which our country is going through; we cannot organise events which could be attended by thousands of people at a time the country is witnessing a state of lawlessness."

Coverage in other Egyptian newspapers was dominated by the violence. The front page of state-run newspaper Al-Ahram Al-Masa'i read "Egyptian bloodshed on black Wednesday", while its back page headline was "Black night… Egypt's Football Federation is responsible for Port Said massacre".

Elsewhere, state-run Al-Jumhuriyah newspaper led with the headline "Football or premeditated vandalism".

Fury on social media

Web users took to social media to express their anger at events, with some calling for marches to the ministries of the interior and defence, while three presidential hopefuls used Twitter to voice their reactions.

Egyptian presidential hopeful Abd-al-Mun'im Abu-al-Futuh told his Twitter followers that al-Ahly's fans were being punished for their part in the revolution: "The massacre in Port Said Stadium is not just a security failure, but also a full crime. The revolution cannot allow the punishment of the Ultras for their participation at Tahrir."

Amr Musa, former chief of the Arab League, and now hoping to stand for the presidency, tweeted: "The security forces should take the necessary measures to address the lack of security, without any extraordinary measures, and those responsible should be held accountable for these events." Hamdin Sabahi posted on Twitter to say "It is not a football riot, but a political crime."

Prominent blogger and political activist Nawara Nigm directed her anger at the military council currently ruling Egypt, saying that its leader Mohamed Hussein Tantawi "is responsible for this bloodshed".

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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