An Egyptian court handed down death sentences to 21 Al Masry supporters following last year's tragic riots at their stadium in which 74 visiting Al Ahly fans lost their lives following a league match in February 2012. As expected, the verdict led to jubilation amongst Al Ahly fans and the families of those who had been killed. The reaction was exactly the opposite in Port Said as anger and grief spread through the streets leading to riots leaving 32 dead.
Last year's violence appears to be politically motivated as Al Ahly fans allege they were being targeted by pro Mubarak forces for their part in the Tahrir Square rallies that led to their Arab spring. The police in the Al Masry stadium closed the gates in an orchestrated maneouver which funneled the visiting fans into a cul de sac where they were stoned and beaten to death. In the traumatic aftermath, legends Mohamed Aboutreika and Emad Moteab announced their retirements and coach Manuel Jose, tendering his resignation, too shaken to continue.
More violence is expected as the trial involves 73 defendants including 3 Al Masry officials, 9 security personnel, and many fans. The court is expected to deliver the remaining verdicts on March 3rd.
Egypt has been racked with violence that have claimed 40 lives as protests against the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and the police have escalated following the second anniversary of the Revolution. The genesis of the Port Said violence and what is occurring in Cairo on the second anniversary is not so dissimilar. Whether it is the Mubarak regime or the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptians are signaling they care deeply about reforms and their patience is not unlimited.