by Hend Kortam
CAIRO, Feb 8 (Aswat Masriya) - Members of Ultras White Knights gathered in a Cairo park on Monday to "claim the rights" of at least 19 people killed last year while trying to make their way into a football game.
The widely popular Egyptian sporting club Zamalek was about to play against Enppi, in a football game scheduled for the night of Feb. 8, 2015.
Members of Ultras White Knights, ardent supporters of Zamelek, and other Zamalek fans had gathered in large numbers outside the stadium but they found an unusual setup.
A metal gate was built outside the stadium, which many of Zamalek's fans died trapped within. The exact details which led to the deaths remain contested.
While the interior ministry said large numbers of Zamalek fans attempted to storm the stadium, the ultras group said police "initiated firing teargas towards fans" gathered outside the stadium.
Instead of being consumed with the game and supporting Zamalek, Ultras White Knights' started sharing the images of bodies laying side by side on the floor. The group believes that the deadly violence is a "perfect crime".
The eastern Cairo prosecution said the day after the deadly violence that 19 people were killed but the ultras group says 20 were killed.
In tribute to the deceased, Ultras White Knights' media group released a song called, "open up, we are dying," the final cries of the football fans who died inside the metal cage. The same words are now being used to circulate a hashtag on Twitter to mark the passing of one year since the incident.
Dozens of Ultras White Knights gathered today at the Fostat park in Cairo "in the name of every mother whose heart burned over the parting of a son, a father or a brother."
The Zamalek-Enppi game was eventually played, only 40 minutes after its scheduled time.
The next day, the Egyptian Football Association announced the indefinite suspension of all football activity.
The suspension lasted for nearly two months, after which games were resumed without spectators. The day after the deadly violence, Egypt's prosecutor accused the football fans of blocking a road and torching two police cars.
About a month after the fatal affair, Egyptian prosecutors accused the Muslim Brotherhood of coordinating with the ultras group to carry out acts of violence ahead of the game and referred 16 people to trial.
The prosecution said the Muslim Brotherhood funded ultras members and provided them with explosive materials. The 16 defendants were charged with murder, vandalism, resisting the authorities and the possession of explosive materials in an ongoing trial, whose next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 14.
By coincidence, the ultras event today is the second large-scale gathering by an ultras group this month.
Feb. 1 marked the fourth anniversary of the deadly violence that broke out after a tense game between Cairo's Al Ahly and Port Said's local al-Masry football teams. The Al Ahly fans who had traveled from across Egypt to watch the game up close, left the city at least 70 fans short.
To mark the passing of four years, hundreds of members of Ultras Ahlawy staged a memorial in one of Al Ahly sporting club's stadiums, where they chanted against the interior ministry. They also echoed slogans against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which ruled the country at the time.
Three years apart, Ultras White Knights' bereavement took place ahead of a game, while Ultras Ahlawy's came right after the referee blew the final whistle.
Ultras White Knights said in a statement issued Sunday that they also wished to hold a memorial inside the sporting club, but hurled accusation at the club's administration, reflecting a long history of issues between the group and the club's management.
Today's gathering which marks one year since the deaths outside the football game was peaceful, an eyewitness told Aswat Masriya, adding that the organisers had received police approval before they held the protest and that police only checked people's bags before they entered the park.
Families of those who were lost a year ago, joined in as the mourners chanted "in paradise oh martyr" and carried signs reading "open up, we are dying."