Monday, January 31, 2011

Soccer clubs central to ending Egypt's 'Dictatorship of Fear'

By David Zinn
Sports Illustrated 01/31/2010

Over the decades that have marked the tenure of Egypt's "President for Life" Hosni Mubarak, there has been one consistent nexus for anger, organization, and practical experience in the ancient art of street fighting: the country's soccer clubs. Over the past week, the most organized, militant fan clubs, also known as the "ultras," have put those years of experience to ample use.

Read the rest here



Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Sport as tool for change, love it, esp. as it's football.
Egypt has a proud history of being a leading African nation, although my money is on Iraq being a force in the next 10 years.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Egypt's history as a leading African nation ended roughly seventeen hundred years ago, and for a long period of that time it was just an important outpost of the Roman Empire. Egypt as a pre-eminent power even in the region pretty much ended with Ramses. It was all downhill from there. They've literally gone from being legends in their own time to legends in their own minds.

Now they're stuck in the netherworld between the twenty-first and seventh centuries, like most Muslim nations with few exceptions.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Your comment is pointless, in that it exists only to be negative and dismissive, what relevance does it have to what the people of Egypt are trying to do via revolution or football for that matter?

Frank Partisan said...

Egypt and Iran are the most important countries in the Middle East. They will determine what happens in the whole region. Every Middle East dictator is nervous.

I don't see any protesters demanding Sharia. They want jobs and political democracy.

There are no demands for Mubarak to step down with honor. It's get out now. The old guy is stubborn.

Nobody will let Islamists take power. In Iran the US wanted the Soviet Union surrounded by Islamists. They supported them in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Political Islam was created to fight Nasser.

No insight from the right.

The Sentinel said...

Renegade Eye:

Like I said, it’s the same basic motivator for Egypt is as it was for Tunisia: Food prices, unemployment and direct corruption – not ideology of any sort. Not for the main.

The crowds are not demanding sharia – I have never seen any free crowd ever do so – but if free and fair elections came tomorrow most regional experts seem to agree that the Muslim Brothehood would most likely win.

In which case Egypt does get Islamism.

And considering the Muslim Brotherhood's stated goal is to instill the Qur'an and Sunnah as the "sole reference point for ... ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community ... and state" – it’s pretty obvious what must inevitably follow; and it will have been given a mandate too.

You say “Nobody will let Islamists take power” but then who would stop them – and if the whole point of this exercise is get democracy, would this either be right or welcome?

Political Islam was not created by anyone other the founders of Islam itself – that is the mistake so-called liberals make. Islam is not a religion per se but an entire movement with ideology in every sphere accompanied by a very rigid hierarchy and a very efficient political infrastructure.

(But then most so-called liberals don’t understand the extreme irony of the smear of ‘Islamophobia’ when the word ‘Islam’ itself actually means ‘submit.’)

The real damage to Egypt will come if tourists are discouraged from coming in any way.

Their reliance on this revenue stream is immense – whilst only officially 5-6% GDP, the reality is that the service industry is 48.6% of the GDP – and ‘unknown’ factors such as tipping is the difference between food and quality of life for many people in places like Luxor, Aswan, Sharm-el-Sheikh and even large parts of Cairo.

None of us know what will happen – there is no point in pretending we do – but it seems quite likely that some change will come.

Egyptians will then have to carefully consider this change or they may well face increased hardship and have no one to blame but themselves this time.

By the way, do you really believe everyone can be divided up into 2 groups – “right” and “left”?

Frank Partisan said...


Like I said, it’s the same basic motivator for Egypt is as it was for Tunisia: Food prices, unemployment and direct corruption – not ideology of any sort. Not for the main.

I agree for the most part.

The crowds are not demanding sharia – I have never seen any free crowd ever do so – but if free and fair elections came tomorrow most regional experts seem to agree that the Muslim Brotherhood would most likely win.

The army wouldn't allow them.

I have my doubts. These demonstrations have been organized by secular people. The Muslim Brotherhood were late arrivers. They initially opposed them.

Left and right means less to me, since the fall of Stalinism.

I oppose the term Islamophobia.

Islam is diverse.

I think whoever is in power, will face high expectations. They can't be met with capitalism.

This revolt is like 1905 Russia, not 1917.

SecondComingOfBast said...

They want Mubarrek out now, because if he stays long enough to oversee a peaceful transition of power, that's all the less likely the Islamic Brotherhood can create an Islamist regime. If he leaves tomorrow or the next couple of weeks, they can take advantage of the chaos and seize power. In that event, it would come down to a a choice between a military dictatorship centered around the generals and the military establishment, or an Islmaist police state based on shariah.

Quimbob said...

Kind of interesting that an anti-colonial group would choose a colonial sport..
Still, in the US, many sports fans see their pro sports as being kind of "holy" and hate seeing the intrusion of politics.

Gert said...

Those who still believe militant Islamism in the ME can play a dominant role there simply haven’t followed the last 15 years or so. That is as much true for Egypt as it is for Iran, who’s Sharia based system of governance will eventually have to reform or crumble. The Arabs/Persians are much better educated than ever before, with incredible levels of university educated people including women in many of these countries. They don’t rely on Islam so much for anything anymore, other than religion itself and maybe some cultural identity. Of course there will always be some extremists but we have pockets of extremist godologists everywhere, including Israel.

Islam and democracy aren’t incompatible in any way, shape or form. Incompatibility with democracy is much better correlated with extremely traditional societies that rely on paternalistic, tribe based societal orders and some of these happen to be ‘Islamic’.

It’s rather funny that some here undoubtedly still support Mubarak, when it’s precisely the secular dictator who is cracking skulls of Muslims, Christians and atheists alike, like never before in his reign of terror.

Meanwhile, the Eagle’s wings are being clipped. And there’s nothing hapless ‘American dignitaries’ can do about it. Next time Obama tries to show his face in Cairo, he’ll get pelted with shoes. There’s nothing significant Obama/Clinton have done to prevent the bloodshed, quite the opposite: their calculators now have Arab blood on them but what’s new about that?

In short, those who still cackle on about an ‘Islamist takeover’ must for much of their lives been watching the sort of pap that passes for news and commentary in the Land of the Not So Free, Home of Supporters of Dictators… Thankfully even there exists a vibrant counterculture that tells it like it is. The servers that host Mondoweiss and Angry Arabs (to name but two of the very many) are now smoking hot…

Not a surprise either: Tony Blair supports Mubarak!

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...


Football is not so much colonial as global, it's popularity is worldwide.


No surprise at all that Blair backed Mubarak, always had a tendency to back rum sorts.

Gert said...


Or is he safeguarding his American financial assets? Those pro-Zionist, pro-war speeches he gives on the ‘US lecture circus’, they don’t come cheap, you know?

The Sentinel said...

Renegade Eye:

You may well be right about the army preventing it actually; I was thinking you were looking more externally.

On a practical level it would be the best thing for the country – but on an ideological one it would be a disaster if democracy was circumvented or prevented.

Egypt is very fortunate to have the history, monuments, artifacts and coastal regions it does and Egypt could largely sustain itself off the back of this if managed properly – it already does to a huge degree - but of course at tax and corporate layers the money is simply not finding its way down to the people.

But so many small private ventures feed off tourism – from taxis and caleche’s to river vessels and tour guides to small road side shops and street food vendors and nick nack shops – that in tour reliant areas nearly everyone can try for a piece of the pie: Capitalism at its best.

The main prerequisites are the welcome factor, security, stability and peace.

I doubt the MB would provide the first one, and most likely not the other three either.

Ordinary Egyptians are a canny bunch though and I am confident will go for the best option if given plenty of free and fair choice.

They have lived without tourists before during the multiple terror strike periods, and I know they suffered big style.

Frank Partisan said...

Tomorrow I'll post something, with Marxist theory.

Like everyone, we do our best educated guesses, about what will happen.

Some say Obama's weasel like language, doesn't translate to Arabic.

Quimbob: Thank you for visiting.

Some colonial traditions are kept, as in India, people put milk and sugar in tea.

Daniel: I agree.

Pagan: I don't at all agree. No way are Islamists going to seize power.

Notice the new vice president legalized The Muslim Brotherhood.

I believe Egypt will pass through several governments, just like after the czars fell, until Kerensky came.

Daniel H-G: I agree.

Gert: I agree with most of what you are saying.

I think Egyptians want secularism. I think Israel would want the Muslim Brotherhood to put down protesters. Hamas and Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood are all supporters of neoliberalism.

Sentinel: I can't disagree.

I think Egypt will go through several governments. There are no jobs. How do you get rid of corruption?