In the aftermath of the Air Defence Stadium events, which killed between 22 and 28 citizens, according to different sources, several political parties held a press conference Tuesday at one of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party’s (ESDP) offices, in which their young members expressed their outrage on the excessive use of force during security crackdowns by police.
“Each week the ministry has a catastrophic surprise for us, and the security state refuses to open any communication channel with any political or civil entity whatsoever,” Mohamed Salem, in charge of students’ affairs at ESDP, stated.
Members of Al-Dostour, Al-Karama and Misr Al-Horreya parties demanded the resignation of Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim and Minister of Youth and Sports Khaled Abdel Aziz, claiming they have publicly incited violence against the young fans in front of the Zamalek Club, and failed to give retribution for the “martyrs”.
“What is the state’s political message to the youth? Why does the state keep fighting a large sector of its population called the young? Why are they now either dead or in prisons?” asked Samah El-Azzawy, a media spokesperson for Al-Dostour Party, which has decided not to run in parliament elections in objection to the current practices within the political scene.
Young politicians said they have reached their limits regarding police brutality and oppression of the youth, also following Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh’s shooting and the sentencing of activist Ahmed Douma to life in prison.
“It is disturbing that political and civil forces keep issuing the same condemning statements, organising press conferences with the same demands after repetitive incidents of crackdown on political freedoms and violent abuse, only to find officials’ statements completely ignoring the unpleasant events,” she added.
Despite the cabinet decision to suspend of the Egyptian Football League until further notice, the president of the Zamalek Club, which played during the clashes, called for the resumption of games. State media also reported public sports figure and TV host Medhat Shalaby as saying the league must carry on, but without the presence of the public.
A sports website called ‘Kooora’ also reported that the Football Union did not want to cancel games, quoting a member of the board of directors, Mahmoud El-Shamy, as saying “it should only be postponed until the mourning period is over”.
The conference also condemned the local media, accusing it of vamping up the repression of youth, political forces and any opposition voices.
Mohamed Abul Naga, a member of ESDP’s youth committee, said there was a need for political parties to be more involved within society to seek new and more effective means for pressure and escalation against the government to respond to their demands.
“Regarding the latest stadium incidents, for instance, one of the positive condemning actions that could be taken within the society is the boycott of sports media, and affecting their viewership,” Abul Naga said.
“The situation in Egypt is agitated and the political and security management is not only getting worse, but is also showing no signs of any desires for reform,” Salem added.
Karim El-Saman, member of Misr Al-Horreya Party that is headed by political scientist Amr Hamzawy, said his party demands the resignation of both ministers of interior, and youth and sports.
Condemning the excessive use of force by the security system against the youth, El-Saman said it was exhausting. The youth are either killed in protests or arrested in universities, despite that this is the very same generation that participated in 25 January and 30 June.
“The youth is getting consumed while on the other hand security men are forming electoral coalitions ahead of parliamentary elections,” El-Saman said.
Ali Abul Magd, a member of the youth committee at Al-Karama Party, expressed the same demands on behalf of his party, in addition to holding the president politically responsible for the security management fiasco.
“The state must understand that defeating terrorism will not happen by slaying the youth, and the accumulation of controversial killing cases that are left without accountability or punishment for their perpetuators will lead to more instability and chaos,” Abul Magd stated.
The members pointed out to the media and official government and presidential rhetoric the importance of involving the youth in the decision-making process, endorsing and enabling them to have a voice and a functional role in the different state bodies.
Al-Sisi had repeatedly spoken of the need to integrate the youth.
Since the revolution, political parties and NGOs have been submitting projects aimed at restructuring the Ministry of Interior, El-Azzawy told Daily News Egypt on the sidelines of the conference: “The state does not understand that reform is not the same as replacing the old officials with new ones. There has to be a transformation in their concepts and purposes.”
Political parties have three roles to fulfil: raise public awareness, mobilise the public and participate within the society and with the government, which is usually done through legitimate means such as the parliament for instance, El-Azzawy said, adding: “We will continue to try.”