Egypt’s hissy fit continues.
Hosni Mubarak: “I want to say in clear words that the dignity of Egyptians is part of the dignity of Egypt. . . . Egypt does not tolerate those who hurt the dignity of its sons.”
Well, Mr Mubarak who has gamed so many elections, he is a virtual dictator by now, saw no problems in the violence perpetrated on the Algerian players who were in Cairo for the playoffs There is video evidence to corroborate the accounts of the players. Following the match, 20 Algerians were injured by stone throwing mobs. This despite the Egyptian government giving written assurances to FIFA that it would provide security for all the fans.
In a distinctly different style of retaliation, Algerians caused economic hardship to Egyptian businesses in Algiers. The Orascom compound was looted and millions of dollars damage done. The government slapped Jezzy, Orascom’s subsidiary with a tax bill of more than $500 million to add insult to injury. However, no Egyptian was physically harmed in Algiers.
Even the incidents of violence on Egyptians fans by Algerians after the Fennecs won in Khartoum is based on hearsay. The Sudanese government were unhappy at the hysterical reaction of the Egyptian media to a few isolated incidents. They were blamed for not providing security.
The main instigator of this whole row appears to be President Hosni Mubarak’s elder son Alaa who attended the match and appeared on Egyptian TV, slamming the Algerian fans as “mercenaries” and said the Egyptian team had faced “terror and self-pressure” in Khartoum. Contradicting him was Hatem Al Gabali, Egypt’s Health Minister who said no Egyptian was seriously injured and every fan had returned back safely.
The Algerian ambassador is now being threatened by expulsion. Cultural and economic sanctions are being considered. The Egyptian envoy to Algeria has been recalled and he will not return till matters are resolved satisfactorily. The bad blood has spilled over to the players as Amr Zaki, a Portsmouth target has refused to join because the club has an Algerian defender, Nadir Belhadj in their midst.
Meanwhile, the Algerian Embassy in Zamalek came under siege from thousands while others used aerosol cans to torch Egyptian businesses and openly rioted with their own police causing casualties. The media continues to drum up outrage over the supposed ill treatment of the Egyptian attendees in Khartoum. The long and short of this is that the Egyptians want an apology by Algerian president Abdrlaziz Boutaflika and a replay of the match.
I wonder what Roy Keane would want to say to the Egyptians on this one? “Take it on the chin and stop your childish tantrums.”
Meanwhile, there are saner voices who lament that this reactionary tit for tat compulsive behaviour is putting the historical connections between the two countries to a severe test.
Egypt’s hissy fit continues.