Hundreds of football fans turned out on Monday to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of 20 Al-Zamalek sports club fans during a stampede, which fans blamed it on security forces and the club chairman.
The fans gathered at the Al-Fustat park in south-east Cairo, a location assigned by the governorate where protesters can hold demonstrations without having to notify the government or receive a permit beforehand. The decision was made when the club’s hardcore fan group Ultras White Knights (UWK) decided not to hold the event within the club’s premises since it is “under the control of the killers”.
Heavy security measurements were taken by security agencies in anticipation of the event as shown in the large number of APCs, soldiers, and security personnel deployed at Al-Fustat.
Al-Zamalek Chairman Mortada Mansour was the prime target of chants and signs from the fans, who since last year have been adamant in blaming Mansour for plotting the “massacre”.
On the same day in 2015 before the start of a league match between Al-Zamalek SC and ENPPI, 20 fans were killed as they tried to enter Cairo’s Air Defence stadium.
Before the match, it was hailed as the day fans would finally return to stadiums for a league match months after the Port Said stadium massacre. Mansour distributed tickets and vowed free entrance to the fans and promised a surprise.
When the fans arrived, a narrow metal tunnel was erected inside the gates to reduce the numbers of fans entering at once. Security forces used tear gas and birdshots to disperse the crowding fans in the tunnel which, according to videos, pictures, and testimonies circulated on social media, led to fans being killed.
However the official narrative that is repeated by the judiciary, the police, and the pro-government entities—entities that include the management of the club—and state media, bluntly stated that members of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood sparked anger in the crowd, leading to a riot and an ensuing stampede that killed the fans.
Sixteen defendants, including fans but not security, stadium, and club officials stand accused of inciting the violence that led to the massacre.
UWK called Monday for the gathering to present their stance on the case. “Whoever wants to know the truth should come and see. Whoever prejudged us should come and see. Whoever has the will to help should come and take part,” the group’s statement read.