Jingo hooligans and the police state

Things are getting increasingly strange here. Hosni Mubarak’s eldest son, Alaa, has basically added fuel to peoples’ fake fire against Algeria – the government co-opting popular frustrations with Wednesday’s loss and the news that Egyptian businesses in Algeria were attacked and Egyptian fans in Khartoum were assaulted by Algerians.”It is impossible that we as Egyptians take this, we have to stand up and say ‘enough,'” said Alaa, who had traveled to Khartoum for Wednesday’s game, the AP reported. “There should be a stance, we have had enough. When you insult my dignity … I will beat you on the head,” added the younger Mubarak.”

Today Zamalek is a cordoned police zone, thousands of Central Security troops and dozens of trucks not only around the Algerian Embassy, but on every side street on that side of the island. Honking horns and chants against Algeria can be heard in the air — I was walking near the Indian Embassy this afternoon and heard crowds, probably across the river in Bulaq. 26th of July street is littered with rocks, garbage, and broken glass. Storefronts on money exchanges and the various other shops — Egyptian stores — were smashed late last night, early this morning.

I took some video of the protests on 26th of July last night, but before the rioting really took off. Still, people were burning Algerian flags, waving huge Egyptian ones, and chanting insults to Algeria – (not just “Allahu Akbar” as the AP and other agencies focus on). More vulgar things.. insults more suitable for a kind of soccer riot, which this is, sort of, but is clearly ballooning into something else.

Hooliganism and narrow nationalism

The vehemence, fanaticism, and recriminations that were blatantly expressed in the media and on the streets of Algeria, Egypt, and Sudan [the host country where the deciding final game is to be played] all point to a trend. This is the logical outcome of the narrow nationalism that has prevailed in Arab politics since the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the former Egyptian president.

Asad AbuKhalil on the politics of a sporting rivalry for Al Jazeera English.