After last weekend’s tense World Cup qualification football game pitting Egypt’s Pharaohs against Algeria’s Fennecs (the Pharaohs won 2-0), irate Algerian football fans vandalised several Egyptian businesses in Algiers. On Sunday, Anis (not his real name) found himself near the offices of telephone operator Djezzy, owned by Egyptian company Orascom, when an angry mob stormed the site. According to Anis, police officers stood by and watched as violent youths went on the rampage in the company's offices. However, reports in Algerian daily El Watan claimed "anti-riot forces intervened to stop the vandalism” and made “several arrests". According to Orascom, the angry football fans damaged several million dollars worth of property.
I came across a group of about 200 youths headed towards the Djezzy headquarters, in the Algiers neighbourhood of Dar el-Beida. I decided to follow them. They didn’t look like typical vandals, more like neighbourhood kids. There were a dozen anti-riot police vans stationed around the building. Youths began throwing rocks at the windows, but the police did nothing. So the kids began throwing bigger rocks, then breaking down the door, and still the police did nothing. The mob went on the rampage and vandalised every single floor of the building, but the police didn’t intervene until some of them tried to set fire to the place. It almost looked as if the police was stationed there to protect the rioters, not the building! The incidents began at 7.30pm and lasted until the following morning. Many shops were attacked in the city centre, but the company headquarters suffered the worst damage. If Algeria looses Wednesday’s run-off game and does not qualify for the World Cup, I can guarantee that there will be even more damage.