CAIRO – The scene of veiled girls beating drums, playing trumpets and singing at the top of their lungs anti-military slogans to support deposed President Mohamed Morsi was becoming more familiar in the streets of Cairo in recent weeks.
“We are here to help the women make themselves heard,” Aya Alla Hosni, an activist in the ‘Women against the coup’ movement and a founding member of the ‘Ultras girls’, told France 24 on Monday, November 11.
“I believe that a woman can show her enthusiasm while remaining virtuous,” she added.
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Daily marches have been dominating Egyptian streets over the past four months after the army interfered in July 3 to depose former President Morsi after huge protests.
The pace of daily marches increased after Egyptian security forces heavely cracked down on Rabaa al-Adawiya square, where hundreds of pro-Morsi supporters were crushed and killed.
The new school year also increased the scope of protests, entering Egyptian universities and schools.
In an effort to make their voices heard, Egypt's girls formed 'Ultras girls', turning to an unlikely source of inspiration: football fans.
“The idea of an ‘Ultras’ group came about during protests against the army. Some women began to bring drums, while others composed protest songs, and so on,” Hosni said.
“So we said to ourselves, why not create an Ultra group? We started a Facebook page, and now there are ‘Ultra girls’ in several regions of Egypt, such as Giza and Helwan.”
Going in daily protests, the group was urged for practical reasons.
“We created this group mainly for practical reasons: during protests, the women’s group is always behind the men’s group. As a result, the women’s group is not close enough to hear the songs and the slogans and to share them with others further behind,” she added.
“So, we, the ‘Ultras girls’, place ourselves at the front of the women’s group during the protests, so that they can follow our lead and sing our protest songs.”
Being a new phenomenon in Egypt, the group faced criticism at first which faded later.
“Many men of the Muslim Brotherhood have criticized our initiative, particularly on social networks. They think it is undignified for a pious woman to act like a football fan,” Aya Hosni said.
“I disagree with this point of view, because I believe a woman can show her enthusiasm while remaining virtuous.
“Unlike football fans, we do not swear and we do not attack anyone,” she added.
Female students at al-Azhar University, which has been racked by protests since the start of the school year, created a similar group to support the Muslim Brotherhood.
Unlike the 'Ultras girls', these activists cover their faces to avoid being recognized by university officials who could expel them.
The Ultras from the Cairo-based football club, al-Ahly, were the first football fans in Egypt to enter the political arena.
The group participated in huge protests against interior ministry before January 2011 revolution, which culminated in the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak.
On 1 February, 2012, 74 Ultras Ahlawy members (hardcore football fans) got killed in clashes between the Masry and Ahly football clubs in Port Said Stadium.
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