Egyptians attack Algerians in post-match violence
|Saturday, November 21,2009 08:25|
|By Joseph Mayton|
CAIRO: By early afternoon, the scene in front of the Algerian Embassy in Cairo had calmed somewhat after angry Egyptians attacked the embassy in the upscale Zamalek neighborhood. At least 11 riot police – who had been surrounding the area for the past week – were injured in the violence that erupted late Thursday evening. Egyptians threw stones and launched firebombs at the embassy while yelling anti-Algerian statements.
According to the interior ministry, in addition to the 11 police officers injured, 15 cars were damaged and four store fronts were destroyed.
“There are some crazy things going on at the Algerian Embassy. Fires and things in the street,” wrote an American passerby in an SMS to Bikya Masr in the early hours of Friday morning.
According to Mahmoud, a police officer present on Thursday night, groups of Egyptians tried to push their way through the riot police to get to the embassy. At first, he says, police were able to hold them off, but “they became too many and we couldn’t keep control.”
The officer says that when the group became determined to get to the embassy, police tried their best to curtail any violence, but they could do little to stop the mob.
“We tried and some of our people got injured,” he adds.
The Egyptians held signs calling for the expulsion of the Algerian ambassador from Egypt, saying that reported violence against Egyptians in Sudan following Wednesday’s match. According to reports from Khartoum, some 21 Egyptians were wounded in skirmishes following the match, but the Sudanese have denied such reports.
One of the shopkeepers near the scene told Bikya Masr on Thursday that he can’t believe how the Egyptian fans reacted, arguing that it shows just how far football has come to represent what it means to be Egyptian.
“They go and try to destroy and embassy, shops and cars? It is wrong and this is not what football is about. We all wanted to see Egypt in the World Cup, but they lost. What are you going to do? Go and destroy our shops and our cars? I can’t believe it,” said Omar Abdel Hamid.
Violent outbursts have come to encapsulate the battle between Egypt and Algeria, including incidents of hate and destruction against both Algerians and Egyptians in Algeria and Egypt, respectively.
One British citizen wrote on his Twitter account that his French-Algerian girlfriend was verbally attacked in Cairo’s Ataba square on Wednesday morning after Egyptians in the area discovered her Algerian heritage.
With the violence on Thursday night, many are worried that the situation in Egypt has enabled the frenzied response to the quest for football glory.
“We were all excited and showed our love for Egypt, but these few people have stained Egypt’s image and shown that the country is not what it should be. They used football as an excuse to the situation in this country. It is so bad,” said Amr, a 29-year-old Egyptian who says his disappointment at Wednesday loss was strong, but he never felt the need to attack the Algerians in the country.
“What do they expect to achieve with this? Nothing. It just shows that people are frustrated,” he added.
Pictures From Ayoum Alsabee Site: