Egyptians blame army rulers for 'Port Said massacre'

Hundreds of Egyptians take to streets of Cairo, saying the army council was behind the soccer riots that killed 74.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
February 2, 2012 17:07
2 minute read.
Egyptians protest after Port Said massacre

Egyptians protest after Port Said massacre_390. (photo credit: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)

Egyptians angered over the deaths of 74 people during a post-soccer match stampede in Port Said on Wednesday protested in Cairo on Thursday, placing the blame on the country's ruling military council.

In an emergency meeting at Egypt's newly formed parliament, Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri announced that he had dissolved the Egyptian Soccer Federation, referring its members to prosecutors for investigation. He also said that the Port Said and the governor and police chief had been suspended, and Al Ahram reported that the latter will be detained pending investigations.

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Egyptian demonstrators in Cairo meanwhile claimed that the country's military rulers have failed to provide adequate security to civilians, and have failed to improve on the oppressive regime toppled by protesters over a year ago, Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm reported.

Those security failures, protesters said, led to what Egyptians are calling the "Port Said massacre" following a soccer match in the Mediterranean city on Wednesday.

Protesters chanted "Down down with the military council" and "the people want the execution of the marshal," the latter phrase directed at the Supreme Council of Armed Forces chief Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

Egyptian security forces fired tear gas at protesters near the Interior Ministry in central Cairo, prompting hundreds to flee, witnesses said.

One demonstrator told Al Masry Al Youm that the tragedy in Port Said was masterminded by the army generals in order to instigate "civil war" between Egyptians, the suspicions many Egyptians hold of the military council that took power from ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

The protesters cited other incidents, including a number of armed robberies, as fabricated attempts to undermine the success of last year's "revolution."

Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram reported that 28 political parties and movements have called for protests to continue in Cairo through Saturday.

The so-called "Ultras" soccer fans, a group of young Egyptians that were on the frontlines of the country's uprising in 2011, called for a march from the Al Ahli soccer club, the losing team in Wednesday's tragic match, to the lower house of Egypt's parliament on Saturday.

Activists on the streets were not the only Egyptians claiming that the country's military leadership may have allowed, or even caused the riots.

Angry politicians denounced a thin security presence given the tense build-up to the match and accused Egypt's military leaders of allowing, or even causing, the fighting.

Parliament was holding an emergency session to discuss the violence. The Muslim Brotherhood, which dominates the assembly, said an "invisible" hand was behind the tragedy.

The Interior Ministry, meanwhile, blamed the violence on a section of the crowd which it said had deliberately set out to cause "anarchy, a riot, and a stampede."

Facing increasing criticism from protesters who demand its removal, the supreme council announced three days of mourning following the "Port Said massacre," and vowed to compensate the victims' families.

Reuters contributed to the report


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