In late January there were huge riots in Port Said, Egypt, after a court sentenced 21 people to death in the aftermath of a February 2012 soccer riot that left more than 75 people dead. Things could be even worse on Saturday as the Cairo court rules on the fate of the remaining 52 defendants.
“I’m terrified of what could happen on Saturday,” one soldier guarding the police headquarters told AFP.
“Egyptians are concerned with what might happen on that day, and fear that violence will continue — if not escalate — even if the verdict was what the people want and ask for,” she writes.
UPDATE MARCH 9: The verdict wasn’t good and the people aren’t happy. Read more >
On February 1, 2012, a riot broke out after a game between Cairo’s al-Masry and the hometown al-Ahly club when hundreds of fans from the winning al-Masry team stormed the field and began attacking al-Ahly players and fans.
The next day two died in the city of Suez and more than 900 were injured in Cairo as hundreds of protesters — angry with the shoddy security at a soccer match — attacked the security forces’ headquarters in Suez and Cairo protestors gathered in Tahrir Square.
Egyptians had just marked the anniversary of the revolution that toppled the longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak and current President Mohamed Morsi didn’t get elected until June of 2012.
This week Unrest has been building ahead of the upcoming verdict. Thousands have been protesting every day this week in Port Said, and at least eight people (including three policemen) have been killed in the resulting clashes.
Meanwhile Egyptian policemen are going on strike across the country, saying they don’t have enough weapons and officers to deal violent protesters. On Friday the powerful head of country’s central security forces was replaced without a reason given.
Authorities have tightened security in the capital and the Suez Canal city and will deploy 2,000 police around the police academy in Cairo on Saturday.
Here’s the full letter from our source in Cairo (edited for clarity):
Many Egyptians are now under the mercy of brutal police forces and their unidentified allies and supporters — some of them allegedly non-Egyptians and possibly Hamas elements. Whether the second part of this is true, the fact remains that Egyptians are killing Egyptians.
Now the dead are not just among protesters, but among the police forces and the army. The problem is protesters are being killed — in cold blood — and not just fired at to disperse them. If there are thugs among the protesters, is shooting everyone the solution then? Is random shooting the solution?
These governorates are inside Egypt — and they’re not occupied territories that we’re fighting in. How can the people there be excluded and ignored and denied their right to security and safety? Life there I’m sure is far from normal. But the youth are still standing.
March 9th approaches — Egyptians are concerned with what might happen on that day, and fear that violence will continue — if not escalate — even if the verdict was what the people want and ask for. Even if it carries justice for some, it will carry injustice to others. Justice — the concept and the implementation thereof — are sparse in Egypt now a days.
I can’t say if it’s shocking or expected for people to be very happy that an administrative court challenged the President’s orders to call for parliamentary elections, but it’s a strong indicator that people are relieved, that they were possibly torn between wanting to practice their rights and not wanting to be part of a big plot against their country.
Regular people want to be relieved of a lot of pressures — economic and security and in almost every other aspect of their daily life.It’s not fair that we wake up every day wondering what will go wrong and how many people will be killed and what will happen on certain dates. I for one don’t feel that we’re in a normal state, and it’s not just because of the revolution and the transitional period. The people are fighting a new kind of suppression — possibly similar to what’s been witnessed in Mubarak era and possibly worse.
Things have gone from bad to worse since Morsi took office, and since the so-called Brotherhoodization or “Akhwanah” of the State started. It seems that they actually are living in a state of their own — in their own minds. They don’t care about the rest of the people. My friends who work in impoverished rural areas tell me that people there can’t stand to hear the Muslim Brotherhood’s name.
Is there a name for when someone’s popularity drops significantly and they’re faced with pure and direct hatred but they still pretend to be in control, needed, and the only alternative? Is this how the regime is rewarding the people who trusted them? Is this how the MB and their ruling party and incapable president treat the people who voted for them and brought them to power? They keep talking about the legitimacy of the elections and the ballots — what legitimacy does one have as a killer?
All this violence and unrest is because the president and the government continue to ignore the root cause of the problem and insist on forcing confrontations among people — between the protesters and the police, and between the police and the army, and possibly at some point between the protesters or the people and the army to kill any chance of the people actually wanting or even considering the military to intervene.
We might as well all be complacent to the crimes committed against our fellow Egyptians, simply by being silent about them. Shame on everyone who keeps silent about what’s happening.
To the Muslim Brotherhood and your followers — We don’t believe you anymore. To the President — you have blood on your hands, and nothing will ever change that, and forgiveness is not an option.
Check out the AFP’s latest for a good take on everything that’s going wrong in Egypt.
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