A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Day After: Repercussions of Port Said

Egypt remains in shock after the carnage in Port Said; the death toll is at least 79 and may rise. The government is trying to respond belatedly, declaring three days of mourning, accepting the resignation of the Governor of Port Said, sacking and investigating the security chiefs there, etc. Ahly, the Cairo club that was attacked by their Port Said rivals Masry, have decided against playing against Port Said for five years; their coach and three stars reporting they plan to retire.

As already noted yesterday, the conspiracy theories were quick to kick in. The revolutionaries for once agree with the Muslim Brotherhood on something: SCAF is somehow responsible. The security forces, though present, clearly did little to stop the violence. Security has been a problem in Egypt since the police vanished in the midst of the Revolution, and underpaid, poorly trained police are no match for the football Ultras in strength.

One of the major surprises of the day has been the fact that the Brotherhood, which up to now has supported SCAF's transition timeline, is starting to talk about an earlier transition, perhaps realizing that the growing perception of instability and of security spinning out of control could lead the masses to blame not only SCAF but the Brotherhood.  This Al Jazeera English report has a clip of the emergency session of Parliament: when Speaker Katatni, from the Brotherhood's FJP, tried to ban live television, the MPs shouted the motion down and kept it live.

Ahly supporters and the usual revolutionary protesters are clashing with police as they attempt to march on the Interior Ministry. There are injured demonstrators; how bad this clash is remains to be seen.

Two pieces by Issandr El Amrani offer his first take: one in The National and one on the London Review of Books blog. Zeinobia, in a blog post with extensive photos and videos of the trains arriving last night from Port Said, concludes that "Everybody is Responsible."

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