The Ultras are the latest large segment of Egyptians to turn against the nation's ruling generals.
In October, 27 people, mostly Christians, were killed by troops during a protest outside the Nile-side state television headquarters. Video clips posted on social networks showed army vehicles running over the protesters. In December, army troops were captured on camera beating and stomping on women protesters, including one that was stripped half-naked.
The two incidents caused an uproar and led to charges that the generals were no better than Mubarak. The fury added to the growing resentment of the generals for the torture of detainees and the hauling of at least 12,000 civilians, many of them protesters, before military tribunals for trial since Mubarak's ouster.
In large part, Egypt's Ultras mirror similar movements in southern Europe, particularly Italy. They first surfaced in 2007, but only burst on the local scene as a distinctive group after Mubarak's fall. Since then, they have made their presence felt in matches with fireworks, incessant chanting and songs taunting the military leadership and police.
"Hey government, tomorrow you will be cleansed by the people's hands. Hey stupid regime, when will you understand that what I demand is freedom, freedom, freedom?" goes one Ultra chant.
They have drawn hundreds of thousands of members from across Egypt, capitalizing on the nation's obsession with soccer.
Their hatred for the police is both deep and uncompromising. Like many Egyptians under Mubarak's authoritarian regime, Ultra members were randomly rounded up and detained, intimidated and harassed by the police.
"We have members who come from areas so poor, so densely populated it is difficult to breathe there, let alone walk or exercise," Ahmed Adel, a leader of the Ultras-White Knights, which supports the Cairo club Zamalek, Al-Ahly's cross-city archrival.
"We can cope with poverty, but we cannot tolerate oppression. We know what social justice is and we want it."
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