Egyptian Soccer Sentences Spark Deadly Clashes
January 26, 2013
An Egyptian court has sentenced 21 defendants to death over riots that killed dozens of people a year ago, sparking new deadly violence.
At least 22 people were reported killed in the violence on January 26 in the city of Port Said.
The violence comes after a day of unrest across Egypt as the opposition marked the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Seventy-four people were killed on February 1, 2012, in riots that followed a league game between Cairo soccer club Al-Ahly and Port Said's Al-Masry.
The violence in Port Said sparked riots in Cairo during which a further 16 people died.
The 21 defendants sentenced to death on January 26 were all Al-Masry fans.
After the verdicts were announced by a judge in the Cairo court, crowds celebrated the sentences outside the Al-Ahly club in the capital.
However, the ruling sparked a rampage in Port Said, where supporters and relatives of those sentenced tried to storm the prison holding the defendants and attacked police stations.
Officials say the 22 people who died in the violence included two policemen.
Army units were deployed on the city's streets following the clashes, in which more than 200 were also wounded.
The verdicts for 52 other defendants in the case, including police officers, are to be announced on March 9.
Opposition Protests Continue
On January 25, violence between police and protesters left at least seven people dead and more than 450 wounded.
At least six of the deaths occurred in Suez, where authorities deployed troops and armored vehicles to protect government institutions.
Protesters accuse President Muhammad Morsi of failing to fulfill the democratic goals of the revolution.
'This is a natural reaction to the country being in a worse state than it was under Mubarak,' a protester on Cairo's Tahrir Square told Reuters.
'This is the natural reaction from people who have not felt as if the revolution had any effect at all. They have stolen the revolution from the revolutionaries, and we are here to reclaim the revolution, with God's will.'
Another protester told the news agency he had come to 'demand an end to the rule of Muhammad Morsi' because 'we have not seen anything from Muhammad Morsi or the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. And it is their supreme guide who rules us anyway.
'We have not seen anything. Neither freedom, or social justice, or any solution to unemployment, or any investment,' he added. 'On the contrary, the economy has collapsed. And on top of that you provide only three loaves of bread for each person. Who, or what family can live off of that?'
In a message on Twitter, Morsi called on citizens to respect the ideals of the revolution and express their views peacefully. He blamed the violence on 'criminals.'
With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP
Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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