TUNISIA

Tunisian football team pay homage to jihadist supporter

 A video being shared by jihadists on social networks show a strange sight: members of a football team in Sousse, northern Tunisia, paying homage to one of their fans that was killed while waging jihad in Syria.

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Football players holding up a poster in homage to a fan killed in Syria. Photo published on the Facebook pageForza-Ess.com.

 

 

A video being shared by jihadists on social networks show a strange sight: members of a football team in Sousse, northern Tunisia, paying homage to one of their fans that was killed while waging jihad in Syria.

 

The young man’s name was Maher Magmagui. He was a member of the Red Brigade, a football fan club in Sousse that supports a local team called l’Etoile Sportive du Sahel (ESS). The club’s members are known for regularly getting into fights with police during games.

 

Magmagui was well-known among ESS fans, notably because he wrote chants sung by supporters during games. He had gone to Syria to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a jihadist armed group. He was killed on April 3.

 

His football fan friends decided to pay him tribute, on April 6, by brandishing posters bearing his photograph before the start of an ESS game. The posters read “Rest in Peace”. The video below shows that the posters were then handed to the team’s players, who held them up and posed with them. One of the players, Baghdad Njayah, again brandished a poster after he scored a goal.

 

 

According to Mohamed Ali Sghaier, a football fan who was at the game, this gesture was not meant to show support for terrorism.

 

The Red Brigade members have a strong sense of solidarity and often pay homage like this, regardless of the deceased fan’s cause of death. It was just about remembering their friend. The posters did not make any references to Syria or to jihad.

 

I don’t think the players understood the implications of what they did. For them, it was just about making their most loyal fans happy.

 

FRANCE 24 contacted the ESS team's management, who did not wish to comment.