Anger, deaths and protests mark day of Port Said verdict

Jamie Craggy, Hazel Haddon, Salma Shukrallah, Nada Rashwan, Osman El Sharnoubi, Bel Trew, Karim Hafez, Saturday 9 Mar 2013

Ahram Online followed developments in Egypt in the aftermath of the Port Said massacre verdict on Saturday. 3 people died during clashes in Cairo; Police Club and football association HQ torched; Port Said relatively quiet

Live Updates2
A riot policeman throws a tear gas canister which was thrown back by protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi during clashes along Qasr Al Nil bridge, which leads to Tahrir Square in Cairo March 9, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

That brings Ahram Online's live coverage of events in Cairo and Port Said to an end. Please read our full round-up of the day's events. Thank you very much for joining us. 


22:10 Ahram Online’s Bel Trew says all shops and kiosks in Port Said have closed in coordination as part a citywide general strike. 

22:05 Ultras Ahlawy members have held a protest at Banha railway station in the Nile Delta governorate of Qalyubia. They halted all trains on the Cairo-Alexandria line, state news agency MENA reported.   

21:20 Panic erupted in Bab El-Louq in downtown Cairo on Saturday evening when armed men began firing bullets into the air, Al-Ahram Arabic reports.

Shop shutters were closed and shop owners formed human chains to protect their businesses.

21:15 Liberal Free Egyptians Party leader Ahmed Saeed has vehemently criticised the handling of the situation by the president and the government. 

“The president and the government are both directly responsible for turning the country’s political fire into a real fire,” read a party statement.

Their silence and failure to deal with the political crisis is leading Egypt into a dark tunnel, the statement added.  

20:45 The left-liberal Egyptian Social Democratic Party is holding a press conference attended by leading party figures, including Mohamed Abul-Ghar, Farid Zahran, Ehab El-Kharrat and party leader Ahmed Fawzy.

Party members have called for Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdullah and Interior Mohamed Ibrahim to be sacked.

The party has said it will boycott parliamentary elections, which which were due to take place on 22 April before the date was delayed due to a court decision.   

20:40 Seventeen defendants acquitted in the Port Said trial have been released from Al-Mostakbal prison in Ismailia, Al-Ahram Arabic reports.

20:15 A friend of Khaled Mustafa, who died during clashes near Qasr El-Nil Bridge this afternoon, has told Al-Ahram Arabic how his death occurred.

Mustafa was shot in the back of the head whilst trying to rescue an injured protester near Qasr El-Nil Bridge, Abu-Bakr Kamel said.

"[Mustafa] had finished work and was heading to Qasr El-Nil Bridge to join the ultras after the verdict.” 

20:00 Sports Minister Al-Amri Farouq says football match between Ahly and ENPPI in the Egyptian Premier League will go ahead on Sunday, Al-Ahram Arabic reports.

It is important for sport to continue as it will help the country overcome this difficult period, he added. 

19:55 Egyptian Football Association announces premier league season will continue as scheduled.

19:50 Ali Dorra, former Freedom and Justice Party MP for Port Said, has condemned the large number of death sentences in the Port Said trial.

Leading political figures must find a solution to the crisis in Port Said, Dorra said. The people of the coastal city feel marginalised and no official figure has visited the city, Al-Ahram Arabic quoted him as saying.

The FJP is leading an initiative to employ lawyers to help the convicted defendants with their appeals, Dorra said.

The legal route is better than resorting to violence, he added.

Criticising Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, Dorra said: “Why did [Qandil] visit the Gaza Strip following the Israeli military operation but ignore the importance of visiting Port Said?”  

19:30 President Morsi will not comment on the Port Said verdicts, presidential spokesperson Ihab Fahmi has said.

The verdict much be respected, Fahmi added.

“What has occurred after the announcement of the verdict has nothing to do with peaceful protests,” Fahmi said during a press conference at the presidential palace this afternoon.

He also denounced the recent attack on the headquarters of the Watan Party’s newspaper.

Investigations into the vandalism and chaos since the verdict are underway, Fahmi added.

Speaking at the same press conference, presidential advisor for political affairs Pakinam El-Sharkawi said PM Hisham Qandil’s cabinet would remain in place and refuted rumours that Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim had been sacked.

“The Ministry of Interior is operating under very difficult circumstances and trying to ensure security and without violating human rights,” El-Sharkawi added.

19:05 As night sets in over Port Said, Ahram Online’s Bel Trew speaks to local residents to get a sense of the mood.

Ahmed Sabri, 30, a government employee and protester, says:

“Port Said is not a huge city, we do not have millions of people like Cairo. Right now it feels like we’re an island. Before, we had support from people in Suez and Ismailia who came to join us - now it's just us, which is why the protests are so small.

“Why are there no clashes here but there are in Cairo? It's because we are inherently peaceful people; the recent street battles only happened because we were responding to a brutal attack by the police. If you could have seen the ages of the kids being shot at by police, you too would think it was shameful.

Hossam Arqi, a 38-year-old businessman, drew some comparisons between the police's reactions to protests in Cairo and Port Said:

“Everyone in Egypt is asking the same question: why are the police doing nothing to the Ultras Ahlawy in Cairo after they burnt the football association HQ and the Police Club? For the past week, they’ve been slaughtering our people [in Port Said] and using excessive violence when we were protesting peacefully." 

Arqi directed a message to President Morsi: “Mohamed Morsi came to Tahrir Square when he was elected president. He opened his shirt and said the people have the power to get rid of him if we want. Well we do, Mr Morsi, we are asking you step down. No more bloodshed. We just want peace" 

18:50  Sepp Blatter, head of football’s world governing body FIFA, has called on football fans in Egypt to remain peaceful.

“Violence is never a solution and is contrary to the spirit of sport,” Blatter said via Twitter.

18:45 Arsonists have targeted two restaurants rumoured to be owned by members of the Muslim Brotherhood in downtown Cairo.

Al-Qazaz, a popular restaurant in Talaat Harb Square, was attacked and set on fire by unknown individuals, causing damage in its entrance.

Moemen, another popular restaurant in downtown, was also set on fire by unknown individuals.

18:35 Moving north to Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, protesters have blocked the corniche with burning tires near Alexandria’s icon Qaed Ibrahim mosque, Al-Ahram Arabic reports.

April 6 Youth Movement and Ultras Ahlawy have denied involvement, blaming “independent protesters.”

18:30 An eight-year-old child and Khaled Mustafa, a worker from Beni Suef, have been found dead inside Omar Makram mosque near Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Al-Ahram Arabic reports.

Both were killed by birdshot during clashes near Qasr El-Nil bridge.

Ambulance personnel refused to transport the corpses to the morgue, leaving them at the mosque instead.

Welcome back to Ahram Online's live coverage of protests following the verdict in the Port Said trial. For our live updates from earlier in the day, please click on the link below:

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