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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Port Said’

Egypt’s Systemic Collapse

Monday, February 4th, 2013

The Egyptian flag is red, white and black with an eagle in the center. Until quite recently, this flag has been a symbol of national consensus symbolizing that all citizens of Egypt, without regard to their political orientation, are sheltered together beneath the wings of the eagle. But this consensus may be starting to crack, and because of the complex nature of the crisis – constitutional, governmental and economic – a growing number of citizens in Egypt believe that the continued existence of the state as one political unit is doubtful. It seems that Egyptian society has been undergoing a corrosive process, ever since the beginning of the “Arab Spring” two years ago, which is undermining the sense of unity and shared destiny in the Land of the Nile.

This process began to be apparent after the unprecedented step taken by the Egyptian judiciary, when it sentenced to death 21 people in Port Said, a port city near the Northern opening of the Suez Canal, because of their involvement in the deaths of 74 people during a soccer game that was held in the city in February of 2012.

When they heard about the sentence, the enraged residents of the city burst into the streets in stormy demonstrations in which more than forty people were killed. It must be noted, however, that some of the fatalities were caused by a barrage of heavy gunfire at the mass funeral of 31 people that had been killed in previous demonstrations.

Disregarding any political consideration, the death toll in Egypt testifies to the fact that the value of life in this densely populated country has been depreciated. Ninety million men, women and children are crowded into the length of the Nile Valley and its delta, with a few concentrations along the canal and the coasts. About one half of them live below the poverty line, which is low to begin with, and about one third of them live in “unplanned neighborhoods,” some in wooden crates, without running water, sewage, electricity or telephone, without employment, without hope and without a future, but crime, violence, drugs and alcohol abound.

In demonstrations in Port Said, there are demands to secede from the state of Egypt. In a graphic illustration of these demands, the demonstrators waved flags where they had changed the color of the upper part of the flag from red to green, with a clear Islamist reference, and instead of the eagle, the name of the city “Port Said” was in the center.

The curfew that was imposed on the city did not help quiet stormy spirits either, and the masses burst into the streets despite the curfew. The police used tear gas against them but to no avail. The army took up a position near the government offices in order to defend them from the raging mob. Military officers claim that they did not open fire and they have no idea how forty people were killed. The Egyptian in the street, who knows the truth, doesn’t buy the story because he understands the matter well: if forty people were killed despite the fact that the army “didn’t shoot”, they wonder how many would have been killed if the army had actually had opened fire

A local group calling itself “The Port Said Youth Bloc” issued a declaration, stating:

We, the people of Port Said, declare the cancellation of Morsi’s legal status; he is no longer the president of Egypt. We call for masses of the Egyptian people to express their solidarity and join the people of Port Said who are being murdered in the streets by the armored Egyptian police before the very eyes of the Egyptian government. The people of Port Said will continue to stand strong even if, as a result of these demonstrations, all of its sons will fall. This expression, “the people of Port Said,” which is repeated a number of times in the manifesto, is an expression of the mood of the residents of the city.

The demand of the people of Port Said to secede from Egypt horrifies the heads of the Egyptian government, because if indeed they do actually separate the area of the Canal from the state of Egypt, the state will lose its main source of income – fees of passage paid by ships that traverse the Canal. If this should happen, considering the recent loss of tourism and foreign investments, Egypt will go bankrupt immediately.

Deadly Riots in Egypt in Worst Crisis since Morsi’s Election

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

At least 30 people were killed and 312 were wounded in Egypt on Saturday, after 21 Port Said soccer fans were sentenced to death over a violent stadium riot last year.

The violence came one day after protest rallies against President Mohamed Morsi on the second anniversary of Egypt’s uprising against predecessor Hosni Mubarak, in which nine were killed.

This is the worst crisis Morsi has faced since his election.

Just minutes after the sentencing in Cairo of the soccer fans, blamed for the deaths of 74 people during post-match clashes last February, protesters rampaged through the city, attacking police stations and burning tires.

Relatives of the condemned fought security forces in an attempt to storm the Port Said prison where they are being held. The attackers used automatic weapons. Police responded with tear gas.

(In Cairo, on the other hand, there were cries of joy at the verdict, as women ululated and relatives of the February victims hugged each other and shouted “Allahu Akbar.”)

Crowds of protesters stormed two Port Said police stations exchanging heavy gunfire with the cops. Ambulances were running all day long, rushing the injured to hospitals. Local mosques asked worshippers to donate blood.

The army finally overtook the Port Said prison, the banks and the courts, to prevent their falling into the hands of rioters.

Armed Forces spokesperson Ahmed Ali said that troops from the Second Field Army are controlling all the main areas around Port Said’s main prison, where the defendants from the Port Said trial are being held.

Clashes also broke out in Suez, on the canal where eight people were killed on Friday.

Protesters tried to storm the main Suez police station, but were stopped by police with tear gas.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s opposition parties are planning to boycott the upcoming parliamentary vote, unless Morsi manages to calm the violence.

The National Salvation Front, comprised of parties opposing the Islamist president, are demanding a “national salvation” government, otherwise it would boycott the elections.

Saturday’s violence came after a day of clashes that marked the revolution’s second anniversary—at least nine people were killed and 530 injured.

Tens of thousands on Friday protested against Morsi, accusing him of failing the revolution and being nothing but an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Early on Saturday, Morsi Twitted an appeal for calm that asked “citizens to adhere to the values of the revolution, express opinions freely and peacefully and renounce violence.”

Protesters in the canal city of Ismailiya stormed government buildings on Friday, and burned down the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters.

The Muslim Brotherhood accused opposition groups of “spreading sabotage.”

In a statement Saturday, the Brotherhood said that the opposition’s silence after attacks against its offices and Freedom and Justice Party headquarters amounted to them “gloating over Egypt and Egyptians,” and accused opposition groups of supporting such attacks.

The group also accused the media of misleading the public, “spreading hatred” against the regime and inciting “sabotage.”

In Cairo, police fired tear gas at protesters outside the presidential palace.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/deadly-riots-in-egypt-in-worst-crisis-since-morsis-election/2013/01/26/

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