Egyptian soccer fans protest detentions

Hundreds of Egyptian soccer fans rallied in the capital Saturday

to demand the release of fans detained in a protest this week.

Fans of Cairo’s Al-Ahly club, known as ultras, marched to the

main judiciary compound. They want the chief prosecutor to drop an

investigation of 25 fans taken into custody Tuesday during a

demonstration at Cairo International Airport.

Authorities contend some of them attacked security personnel.

Nineteen of those detained have since been released on bail while

six others remain in custody.

On its Facebook page, Ultras Al-Ahly said Saturday’s

demonstration was to demand the release of the fans. At the rally,

fans wearing Al-Ahly’s signature red T-shirts were chanting:

”Ultras are not criminals.” The protest was the largest show of

force by Al-Ahly fans in months.

The deeply politicized fans have frequently clashed with police

inside and outside stadiums. Many have also been prominent

participants in the country’s 2011 uprising that forced out

President Hosni Mubarak.

In last year’s soccer riot in Port Said, 74 people were killed,

mostly Al-Ahly fans.

In March this year, the club’s fans rampaged through the heart

of Cairo, storming the Egypt federation headquarters before setting

it ablaze. The violence came in response to the acquittal of seven

police officers while death sentences against 21 alleged rioters

were confirmed in a trial concerning the deadly stadium riot.