As anger swirled over a violent soccer riot that led to 74 deaths, Egyptian protesters Thursday marched on the barricaded Interior Ministry, suspicious of the government's role in the deadly melee, and families waited to collect the bodies of loved ones.
The violence on Wednesday stirred up outrage against the Egyptian police and its ruling military council. Government authorities tried to quell the uproar by launching a criminal investigation and forcing several officials to step down. But the streets remained full, the anger apparent.
The bloodshed stunned a nation that has been enduring violence since a revolution last year overthrew President Hosni Mubarak. It remains a combustible country even as it tries to move toward democracy.
Egyptian families and politicians blamed the police for allowing or even abetting the violence, saying they had done little to protect fans and players from a Cairo soccer team when fans supporting the rival Port Said team streamed onto the soccer field and attacked. The Cairo fans, known as the Ultras, have been on the front lines in recent clashes between anti-government protesters, police and soldiers.
In this September video from Egyptian news source Ahram Online, the Ultras chant anti-government slogans. (Warning: This video includes translations of explicit language.)
A YouTube user in Cairo posted this footage of the march to the Interior Ministry:
Elsewhere on the Web, Foreign Policy Magazine features Mohamed El Dahshan arguing that this is not just soccer violence, saying that "even championship games normally end without a hiccup" in Egypt. The BBC, in turn, delves into the darker side of Egyptian football. And the Global Post reports that the entire board of the Egyptian Soccer Federation has been dissolved as officials investigate.
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles and Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo
Photo: Egyptian protesters fly their national flag and the flag of the Cairo soccer team at a rally for the club and chant anti-ruling military council slogans on their way to Tahrir Square on Thursday. Credit: Nasser Nasser / Associated Press