News / Middle East

Egypt Braces for More Unrest Over Football Riot Case

Egyptian protesters throw stones at riot police during clashes near a state security building in Port Said, March 7, 2013.Egyptian protesters throw stones at riot police during clashes near a state security building in Port Said, March 7, 2013.
x
Egyptian protesters throw stones at riot police during clashes near a state security building in Port Said, March 7, 2013.
Egyptian protesters throw stones at riot police during clashes near a state security building in Port Said, March 7, 2013.
Elizabeth Arrott
Egyptians are bracing for further unrest ahead of Saturday's expected sentencing of more than 50 men in last year's deadly Port Said stadium riot.
 
In the first round of sentencing in January, 21 men, most of them Port Said residents, were condemned to death, sparking violent protests in the port city and other towns along the Suez Canal. The protests merged with anti-government actions across the country marking two years since revolution plunged Egypt into an era of uncertainty.
 
In the past few days, at least six people have been killed and dozens more injured as tensions surrounding the case continued to escalate.
 
While Saturday's sentencing is most likely to affect Port Said hardest, former Al-Masry Al-Youm publisher and democracy activist Hisham Kassem warns it will exacerbate deep political divisions across the nation.
 
"I don't think that the violence that will result from the ruling is going to be contained to Port Said in that case, but it seems to be spreading because of the deteriorating face of authority in Egypt," he said.
 
President Mohamed Morsi and his government have been facing calls from street protesters and the opposition to step down or, at the least, form a more inclusive unity government to move through the current crisis.
 
Tensions between the Islamist leader and his secular, nationalist and anarchist opponents are compounding an economic crisis that risks bankrupting the country within months.
 
Lines to buy gasoline, power cuts and rising prices bring the problems home daily; security concerns have forced key government offices to close.
 
Political analyst and former intelligence officer General Sameh Seif al Yazal says it is not clear how well the government — the interior ministry in particular — can maintain control.
 
"Egypt now is in the phase of 'fragile state,' which is the last phase before collapsing the entire country, and I can see that in front of me," he said.
 
Hopes that Egypt's political transition process would begin wrapping up next month with parliamentary elections were dealt a new blow this week, with a court challenge to the proceedings.
 
Even if the elections go ahead on time, some opposition parties have pledged a boycott.
 
The unrest has sparked speculation in the Egyptian media that the military might intervene, as it did following the ousting of the old government. But publisher Kassem says that despite efforts by the Morsi government to get the military on its side, the armed forces may be reluctant to deploy.
 
"If they do deploy, they will not deploy to keep President Morsi in power as much as they will deploy to regain stability in the country," he said. "That might entail they insist on Morsi resigning before they deploy to avoid being perceived as deploying to save an unpopular, failed president."
 
The government hopes to reverse the slide by offering talks with the opposition and by receiving further financial help from such countries as Qatar, and a loan from the International Monetary Fund.
 
But the opposition has largely rejected Morsi's overtures as insincere, while the IMF deal would entail austerity measures and possible further unrest.
 
There are few voices of optimism these days in the country, where some, like retired general al Yazal, see the problems as having brought about a fundamental change.
 
"Egypt has been known for decades that we are a very peaceful country and we are very moderate," he said. "Unfortunately, we are not moderate now and not peaceful."
 
Al Yazal says his point of view makes him sad, but adds that he is just "trying to be realistic."

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid