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Egyptian Protest Leader Highlights Role of Soccer Fans in Ousting Mubarak

A New York Times reconstruction of collaboration between Egyptian and Tunisian bloggers and Facebook users highlights the role played by Egyptian soccer fans in ending the 30-year rule of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The lengthy report detailing how the bloggers and Facebook users shared experiences and brainstormed over ways of dealing with repressive police forces described how they “fused their secular expertise in social networks with a discipline culled from religious movements and combined the energy of soccer fans with the sophistication of surgeons.” The report quotes Ahmed Maher, a 30-year-old civil engineer and leading organizer of the April 6 Youth Movement that was central to the organization of the protests as saying: “The youth of the Muslim Brotherhood played a really big role. But actually so did the soccer fans” of Egypt’s two leading teams who "are always used to having confrontations with police at the stadiums." Maher was referring to Cairo arch rivals Al Ahly SC and Al Zamalek SC whose animosity dates back to their founding approximately a century ago. Al Ahly was home to the opposition to British colonial rule while Al Zamalek was founded by Egypt’s British overseers and their Egyptian associates. The protests that toppled Mubarak brought together Al Ahly and Al Zamalek supporters used to facing off against one another in their support of the protests. At the same time, the protests accentuated the political and social differences that underlie the rivalry and also brought to the surface differences within the clubs themselves, but particularly Zamalek. Some Zamalek players and coaches participated in the protests while the club’s management appeared to support the embattled president.

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