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Sisi addresses Ultras, Al Ahly denounce ‘offensive’ chants
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi invited Ultras Ahlawy group to participate in a committee to investigate the 2012 Port Said Massacre, while Al Ahly chairman Mahmoud Taher denounced the fans’ anti-state chants.
The statements came after hundreds of the Ultras Ahlawy group members gathered in Mokhtar El-Tetsh Stadium at the Red Castle’s headquarters to commemorate the fourth anniversary of Port Said incident that left 72 people dead.
“I call on the Ultras [Ahlawy] to choose 10 of their members whom they trust to be part of a committee to look into all the details concerning this case and determine what more can be done,” said President Sisi in a telephone call to television show Al-Qahera Al-Youm late on Monday.
Eleven people were handed death sentences, while 10 defendants received a 15-year prison sentence in the Port Said massacre case. The court also sentenced 15 defendants to 10 years and 11 people to five years in prison. Fifteen were sentenced to five years in prison, including former head of Port Said Security Directorate.
Despite the court ruling, the group believes the real culprits remain unpunished.
The fans chanted against former defense minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who was the country’s de facto leader in 2012, and the interior ministry accusing them of complicity in the tragedy.
“In events with large crowds, it’s always difficult to determine the truth behind what happened,” Sisi added.
Meanwhile, Al Ahly board issued a statement on Monday rejecting the fans chants against any of “the symbols of the country’s national institutions”.
“We reject the offensive statements made by fans against any of the state institutions, which enjoy full respect from Al Ahly board and fans,” the statement read.
The board, who stressed their recognition for the role of the club’s fans throughout history, said that these abuses don’t comply with the principles of the club.
“Al Ahly board highly regard the club’s martyrs of the Port Said massacre and the fans, who always stand by the team to achieve glories and victories in different eras,” the statement added.
Since February 2012, Egyptian Premier League matches have been played behind closed doors, as fan attendance was banned after the massacre, which took place after a league match between Al Ahly and Al Masry in the coastal city of Port Said.