If you are a fan of a professional sports team, chances are you have either witnessed or heard stories of other fans who take their hobby too far. Soccer (“football” outside of the US) fans in numerous countries have experienced hooliganism because some of their fellow onlookers translate on-the-field action into a matter of life and death importance. To choose just one example from many: more than 70 people were killed in early 2012 when fans of rival teams brawled at the Port Said stadium in Egypt.
That riot, along with other acts of violence and vandalism, has brought additional attention to Egypt’s “ultras” — diehard fans who organize around their favorite teams. As The New York Times put it on Feb. 1, 2012, the ultras “have added a volatile element” to post-Mubarak Egypt.
Incredibly, some ultras have fused their passion for soccer with a “jihadist mentality.” At least, that is what a Facebook page devoted to the Ultras Yellow Dragons is now marketing. The Ultras Yellow Dragons are fans of the Ismaily Sporting Club, which is based in Ismailia, a city in northeastern Egypt on the west bank of the Suez Canal.
I should note that I do not know how prevalent the admiration for jihadists is among the Ultras Yellow Dragons. This post deals with how some of their fans glorify jihadism alongside soccer.
One advertisement posted on Facebook, seen at the top of this post, features a t-shirt being sold by members of the Ultras Yellow Dragons. If you want to show you are fan of the team, what better way is there than by wearing a shirt featuring Osama bin Laden and other jihadist leaders?
A Facebook post explains that the shirt was modified between the first and second batches sold to the public. The Palestinian Liberation Organization’s deceased leader, Yasser Arafat, was featured on the shirt first offered. Arafat was replaced with Hamas co-founder Ahmed Yassin in the second batch because, according to the group, he was more representative of the “jihadist mentality.” Members of the Ultras Yellow Dragons get a discount over nonmembers, and you can order the shirt from representatives in Ismailia, Cairo, Alexandria, and elsewhere in Egypt.
The t-shirt ad, which was posted in January, is apparently not a one-off sort of thing. The picture below was found on the Talaba Revolution’s Facebook page, as well as other sites, and was posted within the last day. (The Talaba Revolution regularly features jihadist propaganda disseminated by Ansar al Sharia Tunisia.) The picture shows the Ultras Yellow Dragons flying a flag with Osama bin Laden’s face on it before or after a game at Ismailia Stadium.
Below is another photo that appears to show the Ultras Yellow Dragons flying their flags at Ismailia Stadium. In the upper left corner of this photo you can see a flag that features the same “jihadist mentality” imagery as offered on the t-shirt. In the upper right corner of the photo you can see the black banner regularly used by jihadist groups, including those affiliated with al Qaeda.
Some of these photos appeared on the Facebook page for a group calling itself the Ultras Muslims Tunisia. Like their Egyptian counterparts, the group or person behind this page also believes in mixing soccer with jihadist imagery. The header for the Ultras Muslims Tunisia Facebook page features a photo of bin Laden, along with Jordanian jihadist Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, and the Syrian al Qaeda-linked jihadist Abu Musab al Suri.
Bin Laden isn’t the only “revolutionary” featured by these Tunisian soccer fans. As can seen on the Ultras Muslims Tunisia Facebook page, Che Guevara and others are popular as well.
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