Roughly a thousand people rioted in the streets around the Algerian Embassy in Cairo in the early hours of Friday to vent their anger at attacks against Egyptian fans in Sudan on Thursday night.

Angry crowds converged on the embassy, chanting anti-Algerian obscenities, beating drums and burning the Algerian flag, before riot police chased them away from the building with batons.

Young men threw stones and fireworks at the police, who threw the stones back. At one point, fans attacked a police truck, smashing its windows and attempting to turn it over and set it ablaze.

“Where are the newspapers? Where is the television?” they chanted.

Several main arteries of the exclusive island neighbourhood of Zamalek, where the embassy is located, were taken over by the crowds.

“This is bad. This is Egyptians beating Egyptians,” Hussein Abdel-Fatah, 23, told dpa. “Aren’t the police Egyptians too?” But in some cases, police could be seen walking alongside protesters, and late in the night officers could be seen talking with a group of youths, apparently trying to convince them to go home.

At other points, fans yelled at other fans for throwing rocks at the police, saying the police were also Egyptians.

“The Egyptian people are very angry at what the Algerians did,” one protester, who gave his name only as Ahmed, said.

“We stood by them in their war of independence,” he said. “We stood by them through the days of terrorism. What other Arab country stood next to Algeria through all this?” The crowds gathered after altercations in the previous weeks between Algerian and Egyptian fans over a World Cup qualifier and playoff, played in Egypt and Sudan on Saturday and Wednesday night, respectively.

Much smaller crowds gathered near the Algerian Embassy after Egyptian media reported that Algerian fans attacked Egyptian fans in Sudan following Algeria’s 1-0 victory on Wednesday night to reach the World Cup next year in South Africa.

Many said they had come out because they had heard “from everywhere,” including websites Facebook and YouTube, that Egyptian fans had been killed in Sudan.

There were no confirmed deaths from football-related violence in Sudan on Wednesday night.

An Egyptian witness in Khartoum on Wednesday night told dpa by phone that the rumours circulating in Egypt were “wildly exaggerated,” but that Algerian fans had smashed the windows of six buses full of Egyptians on their way to the airport.

Egypt recalled its ambassador from Algiers for consultations on Thursday, citing the attacks.

Prior to the game, Egypt’s Orascome Telecom saw its offices in Algeria destroyed, and the company was hit with nearly 600 million dollars in tax penalties from the government in Algiers.


Football match acquires political overtones November 17, 2009