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Egyptian activists, MPs and media figures visit Port Said to “break siege”

(Updated) Activists and politicians head to Port Said campaigning for an end to the economic and social boycott targeting the city since Egypt's worst sporting disaster

Ahram Online, Saturday 18 Feb 2012
Port Said conference
Cairo convoy reaches Port Said and holds conference with residents (Photo: courtesy of Asmaa Mahfouz)
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Several activists, Parliament members and media figures have left from Tahrir Square early Friday morning heading to Port Said. The aim of the convoy, according to the organizers, is to “break the siege” on the city which has been victim of a social boycott following the violent football events of 1 February.

The convoy organized by the National Front for Justice and Democracy includes Egyptian Social Democratic Party member and MP Ziad El-Eleimy, media figure Reem Maged, known activist Nawara Negm and actor Amr Waked.

On her twitter account Negm wrote “On the way to Port Said with the aim to thwart the military council’s plan to divide Egypt”.

Activists have long been blaming officials as well as security forces for the Port Said deaths. While the killings came as part of an attack from Port Said Masry football fans against Cairo based Ahly fans, many argue that security allowed the violence to happen.

The convoy which reached Port Said toured the city with a march chanting against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and in solidarity with Port Said's residents. A conference was then held in the city's Tahr El-Bahr Street against criminalizing either the people of the Canal city or the ultras (football fans) for the massacre while holding SCAF and security forces responsible.

The campaign for Abd El-Monem Abu El-Fotouh for president also organized a visit to Port Said on the same day where Abu El-Fotouh conducted Friday prayers.

Member of the campaign Mohamed Osman told Ahram Online that "we should not accept that Ahly's ultras anger be directed towards the residents of Port Said. This will only harm the country.  It is wrong to punish Egyptian citizens for something authorities and security should be held responsible for".

Dozens of political groups had issued a statement following the violence accusing security forces of facilitating the entrance of infiltrators among fans gathered to watch Al-Masry play Al-Ahly, and of not stepping in to control the crowd when riots erupted immediately after the match.

Signatories to the statement which included the Coalition of Revolutionary Forces, the April 6 Movement (Democratic Front), the Revolution Youth Coalition, the Revolution Youth Union, the Kazaboon (Liars) Campaign, the Maspero Youth Union, the Popular Movement for Supporting Al-Azhar, Maspero Media Revolutionaries and the Revolutionary Socialists suggested that the recent spate of violent events, ranging from armed robbery to the deadly football clashes, have been orchestrated to justify continued resort to emergency law in the country.

Some 73 football fans, mostly supporters of Al-Ahly, known as the Ultras, were killed Wednesday night after rival Al-Masry fans stormed the pitch at the end of an Egyptian League game between the two teams. The game witnessed tensions from the opening minute and lackluster security, according to many eyewitnesses.

Since the killings, Port Said, being held responsible by many, has been victim of an economic and social boycott. City residents and shop owners now live in a ghost town suffering ridicule, humiliation and an ongoing economic boycott. Convoys heading to the city aim at ending this state of siege and directing criticism towards responsible officials instead.

 

 

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