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Protesters in Egypt's Port Said step up 'civil disobedience' campaign

Now in fourth day, campaign of 'civil disobedience' by Port Said protesters leads to closure of canal city's schools, government offices

Eslam Omar, Wednesday 20 Feb 2013
Port Said
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shout slogans next to a flag with the words "Port Said State" written on it, in the city of Port Said (Photo: Reuters)
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Anti-government protests in Port Said, described by organisers as a campaign of 'civil disobedience,' have entered their fourth day, leading to the closure on Wednesday of almost all of the city's official institutions.

The Ultras Green Eagles, hardcore supporters of Port Said's Masry football club, have issued calls for escalating the protests. More local residents, meanwhile, appear to have joined in the demonstrations and marches.

Authorities, for their part, have yet to react to the ongoing turmoil in the canal city.

"When marches pass by work spaces, employees get up and join Port Said youth to show solidarity with their demands," Ali 'Spicy,' leader of the Ultras Green Eagles, told Ahram Online.

According to 'Spicy,' protesting workers announced the indefinite suspension of Port Said's governorate headquarters, along with local education, electricity and health facilities.

"We want an apology from the presidency for neglecting Port Said and imposing a state of emergency here," Spicy added. "We want our martyrs to be formally recognised as 'martyrs of the revolution.' And we don't want the case of the Port Said stadium disaster to be politicised."

According to Ibrahim El-Masry, a former Masry club footballer and spokesman for the families of Port Said residents recently sentenced to death for involvement in last year's stadium disaster, protesters' demands include the appointment of an independent judge to oversee investigations into the stadium tragedy, prosecution of those responsible for the recent killing of Port Said residents, and compensation by the government for all those injured in last February's stadium calamity.

Protesters also demand construction of a memorial statue to commemorate the recent death of Port Said residents and inclusion of their names on the official list of 'martyrs of Egypt's revolution,' allowing their families to qualify for honours and compensation.

Port Said has suffered a considerable degree of isolation since February of last year, when over 70 fans of the rival Ahly football club were killed in Port Said Stadium. The incident was Egypt's worst-ever football-related disaster.

Last month, 21 Port Said residents were sentenced to death for their involvement in the tragedy. The harsh verdicts triggered violent clashes between residents and police, in which at least 40 people – including security personnel – were killed.

Ahly fans, meanwhile, believe their slain colleagues were murdered intentionally, and have called for similarly harsh sentences against the rest of the defendants in the case. A final verdict on the remaining defendants – which include Masry Club and interior ministry officials – is expected on 9 March.

"We are keeping our protest peaceful," concluded Spicy. "Hear the voice of Port Said; save us before it's too late."

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