Curfew to start in 3 Egypt provinces

2013-01-28 08:58
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - A curfew was to begin on Monday after Egypt's president declared a state of emergency in three Suez Canal provinces hit hardest by a weekend wave of unrest that left more than 50 dead and plunged the nation further into turmoil.

President Mohammed Morsi's declaration was reminiscent of the tactics used by the country's ousted regime to get a grip on discontent. This time, the anger is fuelled by his Islamist policies and the slow pace of change.

Angry and almost screaming, Morsi vowed in a televised address on Sunday night that he would not hesitate to take even more action to stem the latest eruption of violence across much of the country. But at the same time, he sought to reassure Egyptians that his latest moves would not take the country back into authoritarianism.

"There is no going back on freedom, democracy and the supremacy of the law," he said.

The worst violence this weekend was in the Mediterranean coastal city of Port Said, where seven people were killed on Sunday, pushing the toll for two days of clashes to at least 44. The unrest was sparked on Saturday by a court conviction and death sentence for 21 defendants involved in a mass soccer riot in the city's main stadium on 1 February 2012 that left 74 dead.

Most of those sentenced to death were local soccer fans from Port Said, deepening a sense of persecution that Port Said's residents have felt since the stadium disaster, the worst soccer violence ever in Egypt.

At least another 11 died on Friday elsewhere in the country during rallies marking the second anniversary of the anti-Mubarak uprising. Protesters used the occasion to renounce Morsi and his Islamic fundamentalist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, which emerged as the country's most dominant political force after Mubarak's ouster.

The curfew and state of emergency, both in force for 30 days, affect the provinces of Port Said, Ismailiya and Suez. The curfew takes effect Monday from 21:00 to 06:00 every day.

Opposition parties

Morsi, in office since June, also invited the nation's political forces to a dialogue starting on Monday to resolve the country's latest crisis. A statement issued later by his office said that among those invited were the country's top reform leader, Nobel peace Laureate Mohammed ElBaradei, former Arab League chief Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahi, a leftist politician who finished third in last year's presidential race.

The three are leaders of the National Salvation Front, an umbrella for the main opposition parties.

Khaled Dawoud, the Front's spokesman, said Morsi's invitation was meaningless unless he clearly states what is on the agenda. That, he added, must include amending a disputed constitution hurriedly drafted by the president's Islamist allies and rejected by the opposition.

He also faulted the president for not acknowledging his political responsibility for the latest bout of political violence.

"It is all too little too late," Dawoud told The Associated Press.

In many ways, Morsi's decree and his call for a dialogue betrayed his despair in the face of wave after wave of political unrest, violence and man-made disasters that, at times, made the country look like it was about to come unglued.

A relative unknown until his Muslim Brotherhood nominated him to run for president last year, Morsi is widely criticised for having offered no vision for the country's future after nearly 30 years of dictatorship under Mubarak and no coherent policy to tackle seemingly endless problems, from a free falling economy and deeply entrenched social injustices to surging crime and chaos on the streets.

Reform of the judiciary and the police, hated under the old regime for brutality, are also key demands of Morsi's critics.

Innocent citizens

Morsi did not say what he plans to do to stem the violence in other parts of the country outside those three provinces, but he did say he had instructed the police to deal "firmly and forcefully" with individuals attacking state institutions, using firearms to "terrorise" citizens or blocking roads and railway lines.

There were also clashes Sunday in Cairo and several cities in the Nile Delta region, including the industrial city of Mahallah.

Egypt's current crisis is the second to hit the country since November, when Morsi issued decrees, since rescinded, that gave him nearly unlimited powers and placed him above any oversight, including by the judiciary.

The latest eruption of political violence has deepened the malaise as Morsi struggles to get a grip on enormous social and economic problems and the increasingly dangerous fault lines that divide this nation of 85 million.

In an ominous sign, a one-time jihadist group on Sunday blamed the secular opposition for the violence and threatened to set up vigilante militias to defend the government it supports. Tareq el-Zomr of the once-jihadist Gamaa Islamiya, said that if the authorities fail to achieve security, "it will be the right of the Egyptian people ... to set up popular committees to protect private and public property and counter the aggression on innocent citizens."

In Port Said on Sunday, tens of thousands of mourners poured into the streets for a mass funeral for most of the 37 people who died on Saturday. They chanted slogans against Morsi.

"We are now dead against Morsi," said Port Said activist Amira Alfy. "We will not rest now until he goes and we will not take part in the next parliamentary elections. Port Said has risen and will not allow even a semblance of normalcy to come back," she said.

The violence flared only a month after a prolonged crisis — punctuated by deadly violence — over the new constitution. Ten died in that round of unrest and hundreds were injured.

Armoured vehicles

In Port Said, mourners chanted "There is no God but Allah," and "Morsi is God's enemy" as the funeral procession made its way through the city after prayers for the dead at the city's Mariam Mosque. Women clad in black led the chants, which were quickly picked up by the rest of the mourners.

There were no police or army troops in sight. But the funeral procession briefly halted after gunfire rang out. Security officials said it came from several mourners who opened fire at the Police Club next to the cemetery. Activists, however, said the gunfire first came from inside the army club, which is also close to the cemetery. Some of the mourners returned fire, which drew more shots as well as tear gas, according to witnesses. They, together with the officials, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation in the city on the Mediterranean at the northern tip of the Suez Canal.

A total of 630 people were injured, some of them with gunshot wounds, said Abdel-Rahman Farag, director of the city's hospitals.

Also Sunday, army troops backed by armoured vehicles staked out positions at key government facilities to protect state interests and try to restore order.

There was also a funeral in Cairo for two policemen killed in the Port Said violence a day earlier. Several policemen grieving for their colleagues heckled Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, who is in charge of the force, when he arrived for their funeral, according to witnesses.

The angry officers screamed at the minister that he was only at the funeral for the TV cameras — a highly unusual show of dissent in Egypt, where the police force maintains military-like discipline.

Ibrahim hurriedly left and the funeral proceeded without him, a sign that the prestige of the state and its top executives were diminishing.

In Cairo, clashes broke out for the fourth straight day on Sunday, with protesters and police outside two landmark, Nile-side hotels near central Tahrir Square, birthplace of the 2011 uprising. Police fired tear gas while protesters pelted them with rocks.

- AP
Read more on:    mohammed morsi  |  hosni mubarak  |  egypt  |  north africa
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.