Egypt-Algeria World Cup Violence Used to Rally Support for Mubarak Regime

By Topol, Sarah A | The Christian Science Monitor, November 25, 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Egypt-Algeria World Cup Violence Used to Rally Support for Mubarak Regime


Topol, Sarah A, The Christian Science Monitor


Street-level clashes between fans that began over a soccer game between Algeria and Egypt last week have escalated into an international diplomatic incident that goes to the core of Egypt's identity and its waning role as Mideast powerbroker.

Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi announced today he would accept an Arab League request to mediate in the escalating conflict between the two states after Algeria beat Egypt for the last African slot in next summer's World Cup.

In Algiers, offices of Egyptian businesses were vandalized after Egypt won the first qualifying match Nov. 14. Following Algeria's victory in a sudden death playoff four days later, the government- controlled Egyptian media accused Algeria of "terrorizing" its citizens, fomenting animosity that culminated in hundreds of Egyptian rioters descending on the Algerian embassy in Cairo to seek revenge. Egypt recalled its ambassador to Algiers to protest alleged attacks against Egyptian fans in Khartoum, though he later returned to his post.

"Egypt does not tolerate those who hurt the dignity of its sons," a visibly angry President Hosni Mubarak told parliament over the weekend.

But Egypt's anger goes far beyond the game or how Egyptian fans were treated, analysts and political observers say. The real issue is the state's concern over its diminishing regional stature and the Mubarak regime's continued unpopularity at home. In an apparent attempt to mask both problems, President Mubarak's government has tapped into decades-old enmity between Egypt and Algeria to fan the flames of nationalism.

"The discussion is revolving around honor, dignity, respect, and Egypt's position in the Arab world and whether or not Egypt should remain in the Arab world," says Adel Iskandar, professor of media and communications at Georgetown University in Washington. "Egypt as a nation-state participates in regional politics very much like an emeritus professor who ceremonially is accepted into the committees and sits on them, but in reality has very little authority anymore."

Egypt's identity crisis

Once led by Gamal Abdel Nasser, wildly popular across the Middle East as the most prominent advocate of pan-Arab nationalism, Egypt today faces a crisis of identity brought on by heightened feelings of inadequacy.

In the days after the game, Mubarak's son Alaa was quoted as saying: "There is nothing called Arab nationalism or brotherhood, this is just talk, that doesn't mean anything in reality.... When Algerians learn how to speak Arabic they can then come and say that they are Arabs." In colloquial Algerian Arabic many words borrowed from their former colonial power France are still used.

The question is one of historical identity - and pride. "The Egyptians would not miss an opportunity to remind the Arabs that ... we are the masters of the Arab world, which is of course not true," says Hossam el-Hamalawy, a prominent Egyptian blogger and political activist.

Criticism from countries such as Qatar, a country with a smaller population than some Cairo districts whose state-funded Al Jazeera station openly challenged the Egyptian position during the war in Gaza last December and January, has made Egypt look weak in front of both its neighbors and its citizens.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Egypt-Algeria World Cup Violence Used to Rally Support for Mubarak Regime
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?