PORT SAID, Egypt -- The rivalry between Port Said’s al Masry soccer club and Cairo’s al Ahly team is legendary, so angry and violent that for many years police made a habit of escorting fans into and out of the stadium for fear of violence.
But on Feb. 1, 2012, those precautions were forgotten. The melee that followed the game that day left 74 people dead – and heaped more fuel on Egypt’s simmering cauldron of discontent.
Last weekend more than 60 people died in riots that were triggered when a judge sentenced 21 people to death for their roles in last year’s stampede. On Friday, thousands turned out for protests around the country to mark the anniversary of the tragedy, with many using the occasion to renew their calls for the resignation of President Mohammed Morsi. Some threw Molotov cocktails over the walls of the presidential palace and battled with presidential guards. One person was killed and at least 48 people were injured near the palace.
Yet for all the attention the events of that day have received in Egypt, few people know the details of what happened. Egyptian journalists have been forbidden, under penalty of jail, from reporting on the specifics of the criminal cases lodged against 75 defendants. No official report has been issued on the incident. If there had been, people might be even angrier.
A 200-page summary of the prosecution’s case, obtained by McClatchy, claims that what took place was a planned assault that could be blamed as much on police as on overzealous fans.