20 February 2013

Egypt: Civil Disobedience in Port Said Enters Fourth Day

Photo: Aswat Masriya
Demonstrators in Port Said.

Civil disobedience in Port Said entered the fourth day on Wednesday with eighty percent of schools suspending their classes, many markets closed and streets empty of protests.

Forty-two people were killed when violence erupted in Port Said at the end of January when relatives of defendants sentenced to death for involvement in football riots that killed over 70 people last February clashed with police.

To calm tensions, Mursi referred a new draft law to the country's legislature to restore the free-zone policy in Port Said on Tuesday. He had also promised to allocate 400 million Egyptian pounds from the Suez Canal revenues to developing the three Canal cities (Port Said, Ismailia and Suez).

In an attempt to contain the violence, the president had declared a state of emergency in the three coastal governorates, including a curfew.

Around a thousand Bour-Fouad residents and young football enthusiasts blocked on Wednesday a strategic road in the north of Port Said leading to losses that amount to at least five million dollars per day.

The authorities are currently negotiating with the protesters in an attempt to persuade them to open the road, while a high ranking official has condemned the protests, saying that they are greatly harming the reputation of the "number one port in the Mediterranean."

The effect of the civil disobedience was enhanced on Tuesday when the productions of factories were disrupted as thousands of workers joined the strike.

An Aswat Masriya eyewitness said that even though some markets were open, "buying and selling" activities were very scarce.

Hundreds of football fans succeeded on Sunday to prevent some employees and workers from going to work, rallying in front of the province's governmental office with some relatives of victims of the recent violence. They demanded justice for the victims of the recent violence, including treating them like those who were killed or wounded during the 2011 revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

The protesters also asked for a new prosecutor to investigate last February's football violence that followed a match between two local teams.

In similar attempts to attract the attention of the regime to their demands, Ultras youths (hardcore football fans) blocked the Cairo-Port Said train route on Sunday in protest against the state of emergency that Mursi imposed on the governorate.

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