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More to Egypt riots than football

The tribalistic violence that followed the World Cup defeat to Algeria was fuelled by a genuine set of grievances

The chauvinistic brand of nationalism that swept across Egypt last week – the violent fringe of which saw riots outside the Algerian embassy in Cairo – really isn't about the football, despite what Joseph Mayton says in his Cif article yesterday.

The spark was a football match, certainly, but Mayton's contention that depressed Egyptians were simply "unable to deal with the fact that even on the football pitch, they cannot achieve success" does not tell the whole story.

Mayton appears to want to condemn the flag-burners, congratulate the police, slam President Mubarak, and move on. The reality is far more nuanced, and far less heartening; an irresponsible and sensationalist media in two countries mobilised a particularly poisonous form of latent tribalism among some Egyptians by fixating on – and exaggerating – a very genuine set of grievances over the way Egyptians were being treated abroad.

The first point to make is that Algerian attacks against Egyptian targets in Algiers were real, and the fact that they were allowed to occur in a exceptionally security-conscious state, suggests there was some government complicity in them, indirectly at least. One observer witnessed 200 youths vandalising the offices of Orascom, an Egyptian communications giant, while riot police looked on; the same firm has now been hit by a $600m bill by the Algerian tax authorities in a move that suggests Algeria is willing to jeopardise its entire foreign investment infrastructure for the sake of firing another salvo at its Arab neighbours. Embellishments and fabrications are two-a-penny in this mess, but not to recognise that Egypt was provoked in any way is disingenuous to say the least.

Second, it's all very well to denounce those who allegedly threw bricks and lobbed Molotov cocktails around in Cairo; you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who'd endorse that sort of xenophobic rampage. But righteous disapproval doesn't take us any closer to understanding the sentiments of tens of millions of non-rampaging Egyptians who were also furious with Algeria and expressed their outrage in other ways.

Like most post-colonial countries, Egypt is a "nationalistic" state. Combined with poor education levels, low standards of living and the inevitable sense of disenfranchisement arising from systematic oppression (which is helpfully meted out to Egyptians daily by their own government), such patriotic fervour ensures the spectre of tribalism – the retreat into an exclusionary group identity – always bubbles just below the surface.

Egypt is hardly unique in this respect; there are countless examples of African and Asian countries where ethnic tensions are high and forms of tribalism more visible. But it does exist here, even if it remains largely subterranean; after all, there is usually little opportunity for proud flag-waving under a regime that has overseen the decline of Egypt's role on the international stage, the rise of relative poverty among its people and the murder of innocent civilians by police sporting the national symbol of an eagle on their armbands. Football, of course, is an exception: the "romanticism of an 'all or nothing' game" offers the perfect outlet for a bit of brazen nationalism, relatively untainted by the government-induced disarray the rest of the country is lying in.

The key characteristic of tribalism is that it is aggravated far more by external actions – because it involves an image of the self that is inherently based on some conception of "the other" – than it is by threats at home. In fact the dignity and rights of Egyptians are assaulted a great deal more often, and to a far greater extent by Egypt's own elite than they have been by Algerians or any other recent outsiders; as Hossam el-Hamalawy, a local journalist and activist, pointed out recently, "Hosni Mubarak's thugs have beaten and killed more Egyptians than any hooligans."

But to many Egyptians, that wasn't the point; the attacks in Algiers were perceived as an extraneous peril that deserved an extreme response. The conditions were set for an explosion, and somebody just needed to light the fuse.

Enter a phalanx of pampered actors, singers, TV personalities and other assorted celebrities who quickly saw a chance to jump on a populist bandwagon and regale all the talk shows with lurid accounts of their near-death experiences while attending the playoff match in Sudan. There is an epic chasm between the lives of the (mainly) upper-class Egyptians who could afford to journey down to Khartoum for the game and the world of the masses who watched it in their living rooms and in shisha cafes, a chasm that the former attempted to bridge through a hypocritical and exploitative campaign of disinformation.

No matter that most of these individuals have now quietly recanted their claims of bloodletting in the stands; the media were only too happy to whip up the hysterical tales of these two-bit phonies who thought they could grab some grubby stardust by singing along with lies and distortions to the patriotic tune. The same process, by the way, was also under way in the Algerian press, where the poisonous al-Chorouk newspaper printed fake story after fake story in an attempt to stoke tension.

This confluence of chauvinistic nationalism and media hyperbole lay at the heart of last week's chaos. That's not an excuse, just an explanation (and an incomplete one too, as nothing this wide-ranging affair can be pinned down to a single cause). The government played a key role in fanning the flames, and they certainly tried to exploit the crisis for political gain – although I'm inclined to think Mubarak's clique decided somewhat belatedly to surf the wave of popular anger, rather than playing any part in initiating it.

As one Egyptian friend recently put it to me, Egypt's ruling class are "half-bright bureaucrats and armchair statesmen"; in the international arena they prefer to keep their heads down and avoid making enemies, which is why Egypt has so shamelessly sold out the Palestinians in Gaza and also failed to stand up to Libya or Saudi Arabia over the well-documented mistreatment of Egyptian migrant workers.

Indeed, the only good thing that might possibly emerge from the past fortnight would be a growing awareness of the duplicity of Egypt's political leaders, who are now promising to unleash "Egypt's wrath" on those who flout the rights of Egyptians. Championing those rights in recent years has involved arresting peaceful demonstrators, torturing dissidents and presiding over a state so corrupt and dysfunctional that recent train and ferry accidents have killed more than 300 and 1000 Egyptians respectively (tragedies, incidentally, that Mubarak did not think warranted a presidential visit). Tribalism may search for antagonists beyond the borders, but the real enemy of the Egyptian people lies closer to home.


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More to Egypt riots than football | Jack Shenker

This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 16.00 GMT on Wednesday 25 November 2009. It was last modified at 16.05 GMT on Wednesday 25 November 2009.

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  • BigNowitzki BigNowitzki

    25 Nov 2009, 4:07PM

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  • MeandYou MeandYou

    25 Nov 2009, 4:35PM

    Nonsense. The match should not have happened at all after Egyptian fans smashed the bus of Algerian players and injuring 3 players in the process.

    Egypt should have been kicked out from the competition until they learn to respect and not put the lives of visiting players in danger.

    I hope they receive a severe ban from all FIFA organised competitions as a future deterrent.

  • ellis ellis

    25 Nov 2009, 4:36PM

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  • abugaafar abugaafar

    25 Nov 2009, 4:53PM

    in the international arena they prefer to keep their heads down and avoid making enemies

    Sounds like a sane foreign policy to me. Better than grandstanding and getting into unwinnable wars as Nasser did.

    which is why Egypt has so shamelessly sold out the Palestinians in Gaza

    Egypt has been accused of selling out the Palestinians for as long as I can remember, even under Nasser. This despite the thousands of young Egyptian men dead in Sinai for no possible benefit to Egypt.

  • Williach Williach

    25 Nov 2009, 5:02PM

    The author is completely wrong, its indeed about football, heres a proof that you have no knowledge of the arab psyche.

    A well deserved 2 years ban from all competition will be issued very soon despite the FIFA having done everything is their power to protect Egypt in this tie (can you imagine the outcome if england have been involved).

    Without the stoning of the algerian bus that left 3 players with their heads covered in blood + the violence that followed on their travelling supporters (despite the egyptian victory) none of that would have happened.
    Egyptian were just too confident on and off the pitch and they havent finished to pay for it, they are now the laughing stock of the arab world.

    The worst was the reaction of their media following the incidents, "algerian players did that to themselves", that was too much to take for the algerian, that probably partly explain the reaction of some stupid algerian tabloid unleashing the wrath of their people with the "dead bodies" rumour.

    And no egyptian was ever hurt in khartoum, this is another lie, where are the proof ?

  • Chewtoy Chewtoy

    25 Nov 2009, 5:09PM

    Would riots between (lets say) British and German football fans, accompanied by jingoist articles in The Sun and Bild, also be classified as "tribalist", or is that term reserved only for non-western football fans?

  • djimy djimy

    25 Nov 2009, 5:10PM

    Sorry JACK SHENKER Joseph Mayton 's article is more balanced. Your article Mr SHENKER looks like it has been divtated by Egytiian authorities ( Mukhabart to be precise) in vain attempt to discriditing Mayton;s article, which shows th ugly face of Mubarek's regim. Any way the respetable people in the world have made their mind>>the Egyptian soap opera as so ridiculous that nobody is warching it >>The ALGERIAN CARAVANE IS ON ITS WAY TO SOUTH AFRICA....................................!!!

  • MrBullFrog MrBullFrog

    25 Nov 2009, 5:17PM

    Why use the term 'tribalism"? What you describe is an exacerbated nationalism, and one may find examples in countries far closer to hand. One does not have to be from Africa to behave like a lout.

  • abugaafar abugaafar

    25 Nov 2009, 5:19PM

    Chewtoy

    Would riots between (lets say) British and German football fans, accompanied by jingoist articles in The Sun and Bild, also be classified as "tribalist", or is that term reserved only for non-western football fans?

    I think I have seen tribalism used as a metaphor in the context of British football - Celtic and Rangers are the example that springs to mind.

  • omar75 omar75

    25 Nov 2009, 5:22PM

    The Algerian govermnent planned and executed a campaign to terrorize Egyptian fans in Khartoum. 40000 'fans' ( eventhough only 10000 tickets were avaiable) were transported to Khartoum on board military planes to create an intimidating and hostile atmosphere for the Egyptians. The 'fans' were not football fans, they were street thugs and members of Algeria's security forces. They purchased all the knives available in khartoum, evidenced by the quadrupling of knive prices from $5 to $30 in two days. The Egyptian goverment may be distracting its people with football, but at least it is not directly involved is such shameful acts. The bus attack in Cairo was greatly exagerated to set a prelude for khartoum. The Egyptian team's bus was attacked with stones in Annaba, Algeria in 2002 and no one did anything, or even complained.
    Finaly, Egypt is not alienating the Palestinians, It is Hamas that has caused the mess in gaza. What is Egypt supposed to do, fight another war for hamas?? for what?? and why?? The more rational palestinians under the Palestinan authority in the West Bank are not sufferring, and dont want war with Israel.

  • emmemm emmemm

    25 Nov 2009, 5:28PM

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  • jackshenker jackshenker

    25 Nov 2009, 5:28PM

    Contributor Contributor

    @ djimy

    Your article Mr SHENKER looks like it has been divtated by Egytiian authorities ( Mukhabart to be precise)

    You got me there, djimy. The whole thing was indeed penned by the Egyptian intelligence agencies, especially the following:

    Combined with poor education levels, low standards of living and the inevitable sense of disenfranchisement arising from systematic oppression (which is helpfully meted out to Egyptians daily by their own government), such patriotic fervour ensures the spectre of tribalism ? the retreat into an exclusionary group identity ? always bubbles just below the surface.

    and

    There is usually little opportunity for proud flag-waving under a regime that has overseen the decline of Egypt's role on the international stage, the rise of relative poverty among its people and the murder of innocent civilians by police sporting the national symbol of an eagle on their armbands.

    and

    In fact the dignity and rights of Egyptians are assaulted a great deal more often, and to a far greater extent by Egypt's own elite than they have been by Algerians or any other recent outsiders; as Hossam el-Hamalawy, a local journalist and activist, pointed out recently, "Hosni Mubarak's thugs have beaten and killed more Egyptians than any hooligans."

    and

    Indeed, the only good thing that might possibly emerge from the past fortnight would be a growing awareness of the duplicity of Egypt's political leaders, who are now promising to unleash "Egypt's wrath" on those who flout the rights of Egyptians. Championing those rights in recent years has involved arresting peaceful demonstrators, torturing dissidents and presiding over a state so corrupt and dysfunctional that recent train and ferry accidents have killed more than 300 and 1000 Egyptians respectively (tragedies, incidentally, that Mubarak did not think warranted a presidential visit). Tribalism may search for antagonists beyond the borders, but the real enemy of the Egyptian people lies closer to home.

    Thanks for exposing me as a pro-government lackey. I'd love to hear what anti-government writers sound like...

  • Duballiland Duballiland

    25 Nov 2009, 5:48PM

    There is more anger in these words than occured at the matches.

    Just because the Egyptian doesn't go ranting around the region does not mean it does not play its part.

    The commentator very obviously has a large amount of baggage on the topic....the volume but not the contents on show here.

  • TonyPancake TonyPancake

    25 Nov 2009, 5:58PM

    abugaafar
    wrote about

    getting into unwinnable wars as Nasser did.

    I have no time for nationalists of any sort, least of all those who lead their nation, but that's no reason to be historically inaccurate: the '56 war involved France, the UK and Israel bombing the shit out of Egypt, and, despite the utterly impractical and demagogic rhetoric of Nasser, the '67 war was launched by Israel (some revolutionaries at the time said, "Those who spoke of waging a war neither wanted it nor prepared for it, while those who spoke only of defending themselves actually prepared the offensive. ").

    Egypt of course has never "sold out" the vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza or elsewhere: to "sell out" people you have to have been on their side in the first place; in fact, the rulers of Egypt, before the post-Yom Kippur war situation in the 70s , used the rhetoric of coming to the rescue of the Palestinians as a distraction from internal conflicts. They, at that time, were able to survive by constantly raising the specter of Israel, being utterly incapable, by their class position, of effecting any radical solution whatsoever to Egypt's innumerable domestic problems.

    My reading of the current use of football by Mubarak is a bit like the earlier epoch when Israel and Palestine were used as a distraction - football has now become a method of diverting the class struggle, which has become more explosively interesting in the last year(though you'd have to search for evidence of it in the non-mainstream internet media), what with massive independent strikes, etc. See, for just one example:
    http://libcom.org/news/one-dead-dozens-injured-quarry-workers-egypt-clash-police-19072009

  • Oisin75 Oisin75

    25 Nov 2009, 6:01PM

    Living in Dubai I've been hearing about the two matches for a few weeks. Even before any trouble there was no love lost between the sides. Egyptians view the Algerians as cheats and time wasters - they have a similar view that England fans had of Germany in the Klinsmann era. It is partly about football

  • djimy djimy

    25 Nov 2009, 6:02PM

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  • top2002 top2002

    25 Nov 2009, 6:02PM

    For someone claiming to explain events properly it is astounding that you fail to mention the attack on the Algerian players. Algerian and Egyptian intellectuals are currently trying move forward with an agreement that unacceptable behaviour occurred from both populations. Both governments failed to protect guests. Your article has about the same level of analysis as the many youtube comments flying between the two sides.

  • SohaBayoumi SohaBayoumi

    25 Nov 2009, 6:04PM

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is a very reasonable and informed analysis. Well said! I was so angered by Mayton's article I couldn't even bring myself to put my disappointment in words.

  • abugaafar abugaafar

    25 Nov 2009, 6:22PM

    TonyPancake

    The rulers of Egypt [?] being utterly incapable, by their class position, of effecting any radical solution whatsoever to Egypt's innumerable domestic problems.

    Nasser and others of the Free Officers who ruled Egypt from 1952 were of very modest social background, and attempted very radical solutions along Soviet lines to Egypt's domestic problems.

    I would agree that Nasser was not solely responsible for the 1956 and 1967 wars - but let's not forget the Yemen war - but he certainly bears a share.

  • OsamaDiab OsamaDiab

    25 Nov 2009, 6:39PM

    Jack,

    I though tackling such topic in one short opinion piece was impossible and would be problematic for any writer, but you did a great job. I think that's the best analysis I have read about the post-game events. Your closing statement was my favourite!

  • Williach Williach

    25 Nov 2009, 7:07PM

    omar75 : where are the proof of the Khartoum incidents?
    Because you havent been able to provide any so far, unless you were refering to the Antar Yahia vanbastenesc kick as one :)

  • omar75 omar75

    25 Nov 2009, 7:20PM

    willicah - there is footage albeit not that good of the buses getting smashed and people inside ducking for cover. There is also footage of the knives. Sudanese police have filed charges against some Algerian fans. and other police reports have been filed.
    There is also eyewitness reports etc..

  • Williach Williach

    25 Nov 2009, 7:33PM

    Omar-
    The knives footage you probably refer to were taken from some hot algerian derbies.
    No one has ever pulled a knife out of his pocket in Khartoum, dont you think that the algerian authorities were not aware that any incident sparked by algerian fans would have ended with the FIFA excluding our national team from the WC?
    Victory does heal pain.

  • omar75 omar75

    25 Nov 2009, 9:02PM

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  • McLefty McLefty

    25 Nov 2009, 10:28PM

    I invite anyone to view youtube footage of the Algeria v. Egypt games, and to have a look at the racist and anti-semitic discourse that takes place between Arab brethren.

  • Phillipehhf Phillipehhf

    25 Nov 2009, 11:21PM

    Jack,

    y apologies as I made some type errors above.

    As a French expat working in Algeria my thoughts are as follows; as a reporter working for a notable British newspaper you should have carefuly researched your topic prior to writing the article, I can only conclude that you have either not done so or may have some ulterior motive or propaganda purpose to your article as you have failed to report on key elements that took place in the conflict and as a result portrayed a completely different image of the situation to the reality.

    Firstly the first match played between the two teams was in Algeria where the Egyptian team suffered no harrasement and there were very little incidents between the fans of the two countries. On the other hand when the Algerian team went to Cairo they were greeted with large stones and as shown on Canal + (which has no reason to take Algeria's side in the matter) several players were seriously injured. On the night prior to the match the Algerian team were kept awake by beeping car horns and a large wedding reception that took place in the Hotel.

    The Egyptian authorities did nothing to provide suitable conditions for the Algerian squad or protect them from attacks. When the Algerian public were informed of these incidents after the loss of their team they reacted.

    The Egyptians have now accused the Algerians of attacking them after the match in Sudan which makes little sense as the Algerians won the match and were celebrating. The Sudanese authorities in several press releases have confirmed that there were very few injuries after the match and those that occured were to the vast majority to Algerian fans falling victim to disgrunted Egyptian supporters.

    The Egyptian authorities have understandably been very outspoken against the Algerian regime and people as this has diverted the rage the Egyptian people were feeling towards their leadership (as a result of the loss) towards the Algerian people.

    Also worth noting is that the tax bill presented to Orascom has been in the press several times in the last few months and whilst reposting it on the day of the match would not have been a coincidence and would have been a PR coup, the evidence does indicate that it was not fabricated as a result of the situation with Egypt as it preceeded it

  • Moe10 Moe10

    25 Nov 2009, 11:21PM

    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.
  • jackshenker jackshenker

    26 Nov 2009, 1:01AM

    Contributor Contributor

    As with Joseph's original article, the comment section here seems to have become a forum for Egyptian and Algerian fans to continue hurling accusations at each other regarding what did and didn't happen in Cairo, Algiers and Khartoum. Although that was maybe inevitable, it's a shame because the purpose of the article was to try and explore some of the more underlying factors at play, and gain a measure of understanding about how nationalist sentiments develop and are intensified.

    I've been criticised for being pro-Egyptian/anti-Algerian on this; I reject that charge completely, but I'm not going to get anywhere entering the tit-for-tat web of claims and counter-claims that are dominating the discussion. Briefly, though, there's a few points I'd like to address.

    @ Phillipehhf (and others)

    as a reporter working for a notable British newspaper you should have carefuly researched your topic prior to writing the article, I can only conclude that you have either not done so or may have some ulterior motive or propaganda purpose to your article as you have failed to report on key elements that took place in the conflict and as a result portrayed a completely different image of the situation to the reality.

    You're right Phillipe, I didn't mention the attack on the Algerian team bus in Cairo, nor did I mention the gangs of supporters who kept Egypt's players awake at their hotel in the match earlier this year in Algiers, nor did I mention the internet war in the run up to both games which involved high-level newspaper and government websites being hacked on both sides, nor did I mention the controversial Egyptian Coke ad which stoked tensions, and nor did I mention the history of the 1989 game between the two countries where the referee was accused of being biased against the Algerians and the Egyptian team doctor was blinded by Lakhdar Belloumi. I didn't mention any of that partly because the Comment is Free editors sadly impose a word limit on these pieces (despite my best efforts to flout it), and partly because the whole point of the article wasn't to provide a detailed timeline of every Egypt-Algeria grudge since time immemorial, but rather to explore the roots of what I call this chauvinistic nationalist sentiment in Egypt. And that involved responding to Joseph Mayton's comment piece, which I felt incorrectly failed to acknowledge that any harm had been done to Egyptian interests in Algeria.

    There's absolutely no doubt that there are legitimate grievances on both sides, and that both governments are exploiting the crisis for political gain, both sets of media have behaved abhorrently, and both societies have their violent fringes which should be condemned. But to hysterically accuse everyone who comments on the matter of being pro or anti one country or the other doesn't move anything forward.

    I'm more interested in exploring this idea of nationalism/tribalism and how it is manipulated. Chewtoy asks a good question I think, in

    @ Chewtoy

    Would riots between (lets say) British and German football fans, accompanied by jingoist articles in The Sun and Bild, also be classified as "tribalist", or is that term reserved only for non-western football fans?

    Tribalism certainly isn't limited to non-western football fans; I guess my argument is that patriotic fervour is more likely to tip over into that exclusionary group identity - and hence a 'mobilisation' against perceived external threats - as a result of social insecurity, which stems, as I say above, from poorer education levels, lower standards of living and state repression - hence it's more prevalent, or at least there is more potential for it, in a country like Egypt. Which is why media hysteria, which the west obviously isn't immune to, can lead to violent riots here in a way that it usually doesn't in Britain or Germany.

    @ Phillipehhf

    On the night prior to the match the Algerian team were kept awake by beeping car horns and a large wedding reception that took place in the Hotel.

    On a side note the exact same thing happened to my team, QPR, when they took on Cardiff in the Millennium Stadium in 2003 and lost. No diplomatic incidents ensued, but I'm still pretty bitter.

  • Moe10 Moe10

    26 Nov 2009, 6:11AM

    Hi Jack,
    The reactions of Egyptians (people and media) and the Egyptian government is very similar to how the Americans (people and media) and the U.S government reacted after Sep. 11, of course, keeping in mind the difference and the size of the two events. i lived here in the U.S during this period and the reactions were very similar. Can you tell me what you think about my observations??!! I'll really appreciate it. I'm looking forward to seeing your response. I like your article.
    Thanks.

  • Williach Williach

    26 Nov 2009, 8:13AM

    to Moe
    Repeating the same lie over and over will not make it true, so far the only blood that has been spilled is the algerian players/supporters at the hand of your thugs in Cairo.

  • 12pins 12pins

    26 Nov 2009, 10:24AM

    You're a brave man Jack, for engaging witth Cifers most of the "journos" dont bother after leaving a big pile of smelly shit on our virtual doorstep.

    I did think the article by Joe was abit simplistic to say the least, personally i dont know enough abotu Egyptian society to truly understand what set off those scenes after they lost to Alegeria. Football tribalism can do the starngest things to us, i know having followed Arsenal and Englad for much of my adult life.

    But i will say this, after the attacks on the Algerian team bus, which left a few f their players bloodied, FIFA should have handed down a ban to the Egyptians, instead we're hear them petuantly saying they will refuse to take part in international football for 2 years.

    I doubt they will be missed.

  • Miryam Miryam

    26 Nov 2009, 11:04AM

    It's a very pertinent article,thank you!!

    Unfortunately,the Egyptian media are telling lies about what really happened,they want to ternish the image of the Algerian people which is really bad.

    The Egyptian society has many problems in all fields and stages,rather than focusing on those problems and trying to find a solution,the Egyptian journalists keep talking about a football match!!!it's reallu ridiculous and irrational from their sides!!!

    The Algerian football team suffered a lot in Egypt and the Egyptian media were accusing the Algerian of spreading lies and rumours.

    The media should report the facts without taking sides,no matter what the cost will be!!

    This little incident shows the World that Egypt has neither credible nor neutral media.

  • tsalem tsalem

    26 Nov 2009, 11:41AM

    Again another incorrect take on the entire situation. You are correct in saying this is more than football because it is. But it has nothing to do with nationalism either.
    You have to understand that Egyptians do indeed live in the shadow of an autocratic regime. Free speech is generally allowed, but action is another thing altogether. Couple that with the fact that Egypt has always played a large role in the region (most Egyptians will remember Egypt sending troops to support the Algerian revolution in support of pan-arabism).

    I think the isolated incident of Algerina team players being hurled stones at is deplorable and the authorities are pursuing these people. However there has been nothing but a massive force of protection for Algerians and Algerian interests in Egypt. Waht inflamed most educated Egyptians is the fact that Egyptians were not afforded the same level of protection by the Algerian government. Many Egpytian business interests in Algeria were wantonley ransacked and as you say the government was complicit in their response. This shows a massive disregard for relationships at a government level which is extremely dangerous. And these are the things you here about. Being Egyptian I also saw televised the head of the Egyptian FA making calming remarks to Algeria's FA only to being refused a handshake by the Algerian head of FA. I also saw mass Egyptian media before the play-off urging citizens to calm down and show fair play (a message still being repeated). I personally have a friend who was hurt in the Sudan by Algerian fans - and just because he jumped onto a plan and tended to the wounds himself - he is not considered as "having been involved in an aggravated attack by Algerian fans".

    What has also inflamed people is the fact of FIFA and western media's one sidedness in concentrating on the stone throwing incident in Cairo as the only catalyst when the situation is much more complicated.

    All this has created the backlash by the Egyptian populace. Myself and others support statements of reconciliation with Algeria, and reject hooliganism no matter the side. But I also think that Egypt should send a diplomatic response to Algeria to make the point that Egyptian interests abroad should not be allowed to be targeted and attacked in such a way.

    I would urge you to do more research and talk to Egyptians through social media networks to get a better picture of the situation.

  • pretzelberg pretzelberg

    26 Nov 2009, 12:02PM

    Sorry, but this reads like the author was a bit miffed about someone else getting their article in first. You are IMO needlessly disrespectful towards Joseph.

    Both of you ommitted (were unaware of?) the 1989 game and its aftermath. Surely this has been a crucial element.
    Twenty years on, the 'hate match' between Egypt and Algeria is on again
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2009/oct/10/egypt-algeria-repeat-hate-match

    And I don't buy your word-limit argument, because
    a) you could easily have condensed the middle section
    b) you didn't mention the 1989 match in your comment on Jospeph's thread either.

  • Mercurey Mercurey

    26 Nov 2009, 12:06PM

    I line an a very Algerian part of town. The extent of the obsession with the football match in question is quite pathological. A bit like with Turkey in the bad old days.

    Football is the only vent they have in politically repressive society. Though there may be more, it is in the fore front for a reason. Almost make you wish rather than displacement activity there was more political activism.

  • Mercurey Mercurey

    26 Nov 2009, 12:10PM

    In defense of the author's statement about tribalism: There was alot of anger directed at the treatment of Berber's by the Arabs from the Algerians I spoke to.

  • Ieuan Ieuan

    26 Nov 2009, 1:29PM

    "a very genuine set of grievances over the way Egyptians were being treated abroad."

    Perhaps if they stopped treating other Arabs (particularly those who live to the West of them) as second class citizens, then they might get treated better themselves.

    We prefer to deal with offices in the Gulf (further away) than the Egyptian offices, because the way we are treated in Dubai is miles better than the way we (as employees of a Moroccan company) are treated in Cairo.

    Egyptians seem to be just slightly better than Saudis in the way they treat other Arabs, and so generally aren't hated quite as much as Saudis. But it's a close run thing.

  • FebruaryRevenge FebruaryRevenge

    26 Nov 2009, 2:48PM

    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.
  • djimy djimy

    26 Nov 2009, 6:07PM

    @ MOE 10

    It is ridiculous to compare the Egyptian reaction to American reaction to happen to Sept 11 >> 3000 INNOCENT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN MURDERED IN THE TERRORIST ATTACKS ON INNCENTS PEOPLE to what ( DI DNOT!) HAPPEN IN KAHRTOUM >>>This IS non sense!!!!! Comme on give us break From your "cinema" please!!!!!

  • Moe10 Moe10

    26 Nov 2009, 9:19PM

    Williack

    "A big thank you to "canal +" for this program:"

    Do not you think if "Cnanal +" did otherwise, like show what the Algerian terrorists and thugs did in Sudan, their offices would be blown up or burned by the same thugs and terrorists who rioted in France after the Cairo game???!!!!!

  • Moe10 Moe10

    26 Nov 2009, 9:45PM

    djimy,

    "Comme on give us break From your "cinema" please!!!!!"

    Evidently the French Algerian cinema is much more effective and widespread.

    "INNOCENT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN MURDERED IN THE TERRORIST ATTACKS ON INNCENTS PEOPLE"

    Im' really surprised to see you say that; few years ago and maybe still most people in Algeria describe it as a heroic act and perpetrator as heros just like the Algerian newspapers and your fellow algerian thugs and terrorist brag about what they did in Khartoum to the arrogant Egyptians and are proud of it. Only you guys deny it. They do not deny it in Algeria.

  • Moe10 Moe10

    26 Nov 2009, 10:05PM

    Miryam,

    "The Egyptian media are telling lies about what really happened,they want to ternish the image of the Algerian people which is really bad."

    Miryam, can you tell my what "the image of the Algerian people" is?--Decades of terrorism and bloodshed, riots in France in 2005, riots after the Cairo game in France and setting stores and cruise ships on fire, burning and looting Egyptian businesses and attacking and mistreating Egyptian workers in Algeria, describing Egyptian as jews and traitors, and sending thugs and terrorists to Sudan on Military planes.
    You are the ones who are tarnishing your own image, we are only telling our side of the story.

  • NZ213 NZ213

    27 Nov 2009, 2:12AM

    Moe10,
    Judging by your comments, you only have one eye. Learn to take comments without using derogatory words such as Thugs and Terrorists; Like Egypt is full of saints. The truth is that the political system in Egypt is completely broke and this is only an excuse the regime is using to whip up a nationalistic frenzy with the president coming to the rescue of his beloved people. Where was this sentiment when Egyptians were killed in theirs scores in the Ferry incident not too long ago?. Also Not so long ago I was watching Calloway and his caravan to Gaza being beaten up by a mob of youth with Egyptian police watching they even switched street lighting off to make the aggresion easier the whole world witnessed this act sensless of barbarism so no sainthood awards to Egypt here.
    It is time to look into the mirror and accept what is happening right before your eyes rather than falling in the badly made film directed by Mubarak and sons. Egypt is a far bigger country than to engage in such low jibes. Unfortunately as the writer puts it lack of education and illiteracy have helped these parties push their agenda's it is up to the educated people to lead their population to safety.
    Egypt is right now completely bankrupt and if it wasn't to the almost daily shipments of US wheat, the world will witness a famine of unimaginable proportions. In my humble opinion, it is far more productive for Egypt's sons and daughters to look for solutions to these problems rather than wasting energy and effort on a fabricated enemy.
    Peace

  • mgaafar mgaafar

    27 Nov 2009, 2:46AM

    This is one of the best articles I've read this year. Many of the highly educated people here in Egypt didn't even figure out some of the simple realities cited in this article.

    Thanks Jack for your insightful analysis, I'll urge everyone I know to read it.

    Cheers..
    Mohamed

  • loogartner loogartner

    27 Nov 2009, 3:15AM

    All,
    I noticed some comments asking about the proof of Algerians Hooligans attacks on Egyptian fans in Sudan. here it is::

    http://videohat.masrawy.com/view_video.php?viewkey=1e3be894a2b70d08ee4f

    enjoy!!

  • Williach Williach

    27 Nov 2009, 11:27AM

    To Moe

    You better sweep your own chimney before accusing other of antisemitism:

    "After Portsmouth signed an Israeli player and also hired an Israeli football director (Avram Grant), a possible move was ruled out. On top of that, no way could I play at Portsmouth with an Algerian within their ranks."
    Amr Zaki

    http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11661_5713286,00.html

    Same goes for your "terrorists", as Egypt have sclerosed the world with the most famous of them.

    Aid Mabrouk by the way:)

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