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Egyptian footy fans protest detentions

October 19, 2013

CAIRO (AP) — Hundreds of Egyptian football fans rallied in the capital on Saturday to demand the release of fellow fans who were detained in a protest this week.

Fans of Cairo’s Al-Ahly club, known as ultras, marched to the main judiciary compound in Cairo, calling on the chief prosecutor to drop an investigation of 25 fans, who were taken into custody on Tuesday during a demonstration at Cairo International Airport. Authorities alleged some of the protesters attacked security personnel at the facility.

Nineteen of those detained have since been released on bail while six others remain in custody.

On their official Facebook page, Ultras Al-Ahly said Saturday’s demonstration at the High Court was to demand their release. 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 stadia. Many have also been prominent participants in the country’s 2011 uprising that forced long-time autocratic President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

In last year’s deadly football riot in Port Said last year, 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.

They were furious about the acquittal of seven police officers while death sentences against 21 alleged rioters were confirmed in a trial over the deadly stadium riot.

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