Best known for his brutal repression of critics, Egyptian-general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al Sisi has invited protesting militant anti-government soccer fans to investigate a 2012 politically loaded soccer brawl in which 72 supporters of storied Cairo club Al Ahli SC died.
Egyptian law enforcement authorities and the Egyptian Football Association (EFA), in a reflection of fears that stadia in Egypt could once more emerge as platforms for anti-government protest, have extended a ban on spectators attending matches that has been in place for much of the last five years.
As Egyptian general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi struggled this week to get Egyptians to cast their vote in parliamentary elections, militant soccer fans put widespread youth disillusionment with the president's autocratic rule on public display.
Carsi, one of Turkey's largest, if not its largest, fan group has long campaigned for social justice related issues, and played in 2013 a key role in the biggest anti-government protests since Mr. Erdogan's rise to power in 2003.
The Egyptian interior ministry, in a potential signal that the country's military-backed regime recognizes that its choking off of all public space could backfire, has agreed to allow fans to attend international matches played by the national team and Egyptian clubs.
A series of recent mass protests in several Arab countries have called into question suggestions that civil wars, brutal crackdowns and military coups and interventions have quelled popular willingness to stand up for rights in the Middle East.
A shadowy group of militant soccer fans that has largely lied low since it participated in mass anti-government protests in 2013 that led to the military overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has claimed responsibility for a car bomb near a Cairo security building that injured at least six policemen.
This month's premier league final between Cairo's two storied clubs, Al Ahli SC and Al Zamalek SC, once the world's most violent derby, was more than a clash between two soccer giants.
Criticism this week by soccer player Ahmed al-Merghani of general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi's hard-handed repression of dissent and failure to defeat a mushrooming insurgency in the Sinai peninsula signals mounting discontent in Egypt.
Ultras have for the past eight years been at the core of anti-government protest in Egypt. They have been the drivers of student protests in the last two years against the regime of Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, the general-turned-president who in 2013 toppled Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first and only democratically elected president.
Few are able to bridge Egypt's deeply polarizing divide between supporters and opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood following the 2013 military coup that toppled President Mohammed Morsi.
Egyptian-general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al Sisi's iron grip on dissident is likely to be put to the test with the sentencing to death of 11 soccer fans for involvement in a politically loaded football brawl three years ago that left 74 militant supporters of Al Ahli SC dead.
Egypt has moved closer to banning as terrorist organizations militant soccer groups that form the backbone of opposition to autocratic rule with the arrest and pre-trial detention of five alleged members of the Ultras White Knights (UWK), the highly-politicized, street battle-hardened support group of storied Cairo club Al Zamalek SC.
An Egyptian prosecutor has set the stage for the banning of a group of hard-core, militant soccer fans by charging them with accepting money and explosives from the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to stage last month's Cairo football riot in which 22 people were killed.
Some critics claim that the reason for President Obama's reluctance to support Egypt's fight against terrorism is that Washington does not want to reward a dictator that stifles freedom at home. However, this is a weak argument that could easily be applied to Jordan.
Militant, highly politicized, street battle-hardened supporters of both clubs played a key role in the demonstrations that removed Mr. Mubarak from power and in protests against all subsequent governments, including that of Mr. Al Sisi.