Cairo: A bitter cyber war has emerged between Egyptian and Algerian football fans ahead of a critical World Cup qualifier match next week. Unprecedented tension between the two North African countries has found its way onto the Facebook and Twitter pages of patrons.
People are worried the sparring will rehash old enmities which resulted in violent riots during a similar qualifier in 1989.
Political jabs have been traded liberally between the fans of two countries. "Listen to me Pharaohs, you are already cursed," said an Algerian music video circulating on the web addressing the Egyptian football team and laced with profanities.
Algeria has even dealt heavy blows targeting Egypt’s insecurity over its loss in the 1967 Six Day War with Israel which resulted in the loss of Arab territories and a controversial peace treaty with Israel.
"Israel beat you in six days in 1967... We are not the ones who sold Palestine to the Jews," the song charged, played against a picture of the Cairo-based Sunni Muslim authority Shaikh Mohammed Tantawi shaking hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Egypt, in turn, hit at Algeria’s very touchy French colonization.
"We liberated you when France made you slaves," the Egyptian song added referring to the support given by then Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser to the Algerian independence movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
Officials have appealed for calm ahead of the match, fearing the worst.
"There is a joint Egyptian and Algerian desire for calm ahead of the crucial match between the national teams of both countries for the World Cup qualifier," Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said.
Egyptian and Algerian media "hold a responsibility in this regard... and must work to maintain the strong ties between both countries and should not fuel disagreements that are unrelated to sports and sportsmanship," Zaki said.