Up to 40 people may have been killed when Egyptian police tried to disperse spectators trying to enter a football match at the Air Force Stadium, in Cairo.
Photographs shared by netizens on social media show the police shooting at the spectators, who were crowded behind metal barricades. Reports on the ground say police shot birdshot and teargas into the caged crowds, triggering a stampede on Sunday — charges the Egyptian government denies. And the number of deaths is still disputed. This Al Jazeera report says at least 40 people were killed, while this Daily News Egypt puts the figure at 22 and 28.
On social media, the tragedy was described as a “massacre,” with Egyptians lamenting how “cheap” Egyptian blood has become and how Egyptian police are never ever held accountable for their “crimes.”
Much to the disdain of Egyptians, the game between Zamalek and Enppi teams was held as the fans were being killed outside the stadium.
According to the Egyptian Ministry of Interior, the clashes between the police and the Zamalek Club supporters, known as the Ultras White Knights, happened when the fans tried to enter the stadium without purchasing tickets.
Ehab shares a photograph of a fan, who was killed, and who had a ticket to the match.
إسلام عماد ربنا يرحمه و يجعل مثواه الجنه و الغريبه يا أخي معاه تذكره pic.twitter.com/gpD0rgLeNH
— ♛ الريــس إيهــاب ♛ (@drhouba) February 9, 2015
Islam Imad, may his soul rest in peace. It is strange that he has a ticket.
Officials also denied that the fans were killed by Interior Ministry personnel. Many shared this photograph that has since gone viral, doubting the ministry's claims.
#محلب: نرفض اتهام #الداخلية بقتل مشجعي #الزمالك ؟! فعلا شايفين حتى الصورة بتقول ايه ؟ #مجزرة_الدفاع_الجوي pic.twitter.com/QMvsN976xA
— ناشط مش سياسى (@AhmedKhatab89) February 9, 2015
Egyptian Prime Minister Mahleb: “We refuse the accusation that the Interior Ministry killed the fans”
True, you can even see what this photograph says.
Amr shares the same photograph, to refute the government's claim that the fans died of “overcrowding.”
Min of Interior says they died because of overcrowding. Let this picture speak for the dead #Egypt #Zamalek pic.twitter.com/uS7zAmrwJR
— Amr No 2 CC (@Cairo67Unedited) February 8, 2015
Ahmed El Sayed asks his followers to image themselves in the situation the fans were in:
تخيل انك بتجري في المكان المقفول الضيق ده بالعدد ده وبيترمي عليك قنابل غاز وخرطوش،قتلونا بالتدافع #مجزرة_الدفاع_الجوي pic.twitter.com/Cevlj2fCTe
— ahmed el sayed (@ahmedcoman5) February 8, 2015
Imagine yourself running in this narrow crowded closed place, while being shot with teargas and shotgun. They killed us by [generating] a stampede
And journalist Borzou Daragahi shares those “chilling accounts of police misconduct” at the game with his 28.6K followers:
Chilling accounts of police misconduct at #Egypt football game: “One died right beneath me” http://t.co/27orajvfFP pic.twitter.com/Y7A2FvCvsg
— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) February 9, 2015
Salma Elwardany tells her 78.9K followers:
مفيش بلد في الدنيا بيتقتل فيها ٣٠ بني آدم في مباراة الشرطة هي اللي مامناها كمان وتطلع الشرطة تقول نرفض تحمل المسئولية
— Salma Elwardany (@S_Elwardany) February 9, 2015
There isn't a country in the world where 30 people are killed in a match guarded by the police who then refuse to take responsibility
Galal Amr wonders:
So a police officer thought “I'll just fire some teargas. What's the worst that could possibly happen?” #Egypt pic.twitter.com/jhwnkOqO2C
— Galal (@GalalAmrG) February 8, 2015
And Rasha Abdulla asks a question — and answers it:
At least 22 now killed by security outside the gates of a football game in Egypt. Why? Because the police can.
— Rasha Abdulla (@RashaAbdulla) February 8, 2015
And this video, shared by vid egy on YouTube, shows the police shooting into the crowds:
Meanwhile, Lobna Darwish objects to the use of words like “riots” and “clashes” to describe the tragedy. She tweets to her 64K followers:
using terms like “riots” and ‘clashes” to refer to yesterday's events is bs.People didn't get the space or time to resist. it's was one way. — Lobna Darwish (@lobna) February 9, 2015
Many shared the heartbreak of relatives as they reacted to the news that their loved ones are dead.
Cairo correspondent for The Daily Telegraph and Christian Science Monitor Louisa Loveluck shares this photograph of the families who waited outside the Zeinhom morgue for news about their loved ones the following morning with her 14.8K followers on Twitter:
Outside Cairo's morgue, families await news of those missing since last night's match. Some too distraught to speak: pic.twitter.com/guRgKBxbik
— Louisa Loveluck (@leloveluck) February 9, 2015
In a series of tweets, she explains:
Today at Zeinhom morgue, atmosphere unlike anything I've felt in at least 12 visits. Silent, angry grief from fans gathered there. #zamalek — Louisa Loveluck (@leloveluck) February 9, 2015
#pt Several fans who had been at last night's match sat slumped against the wall. Some with heads buried in laps, others staring into space.
— Louisa Loveluck (@leloveluck) February 9, 2015
#pt “I ask the police – where is my son? Where is he?” shouted one father, before entreating crowd to remember description of 20yr old son. — Louisa Loveluck (@leloveluck) February 9, 2015
Tamara Alrifai shares this photograph of a father who had just identified his son at the morgue:
His only son didn't come home from a match RT @ianjameslee:”He goes to see a game & I take him from a morgue” #Egypt pic.twitter.com/MY3zDpN272”
— Tamara Alrifai (@TamaraAlrifai) February 9, 2015
Mohannad is livid that life continues as if nothing happened after such tragedies. He implores his 28K followers:
كان لازم في وقت الحدث يتلغي الماتش، يتلغي الدوري، يطير إتحاد الكورة، يطير وزير الرياضة، يطير وزير الداخلية، بعدين نتفاهم.
— Mohannad (@mand0z) February 9, 2015
The match should have been cancelled when this was happening, and the league cancelled, and the Ministers of Sports and Interior sacked .. and then we can talk
And he adds:
حوادث زي دي بتستقيل فيها حكومات كاملة، مش وزير داخلية عامل فيها صاحب العزبة ومش عايز يتزحزح. — Mohannad (@mand0z) February 9, 2015
In incidents such as this, entire cabinets resign, not a Minister of Interior, who thinks he owns this manor and refuses to budge
But Mohammed Alsaafin says all the murderers are the same.
الي قتلو الناس في رابعة و محمد محمود و ماسبيرو و الدفاع الجوي و المنصة والتحرير هم نفس القتلة على فكرة.
— Mohammad Alsaafin (@malsaafin) February 9, 2015
By the way, those who killed the people at Rabaa, and Mohammed Mahmoud, and Maspero and the Air Force Stadium, and Tahrir are the same murderers
This is the first time fans are allowed back into the stadium after a similar tragedy in Port Said in February 2012. A total of 74 fans of Al Ahly Club were killed during clashes with Al Masry supporters, who attacked them with knives, bottles, stones and fireworks, as the police bolted shut the stadium's gates as the killing frenzy continued inside. As a result, the government then banned domestic league matches for two years. A similar move was taken after Sunday's tragedy, with Egypt once again suspending its football league.
Meanwhile, the Port Said massacre court case continues at the Port Said Criminal Court, with hearings scheduled from March 7 to 10.