The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 29, 2013

Egypt army chief warns state could collapse

(Continued)

Violence exploded in Port Said on Saturday, leaving more than 40 dead since. The provincial governor has gone into hiding. Police are hunkered down. Tanks are in the streets by government buildings, but army troops have balked at enforcing Morsi's curfew order. Residents in all three cities flouted the restrictions with huge marches in the streets Monday and Tuesday night.

"The independent state of Port Said," proclaimed one protester's sign as thousands marched through the city Tuesday in funeral processions for two of those killed in the unrest.

"Down, down with the rule of the Guide," mourners chanted, referring to the Brotherhood's top leader, known as the general guide, who opponents see as the real power behind Morsi's government.

Mourners carried images of young men shot to death by police and accused Morsi of ordering the security forces to open fire. Many said the Islamist president should be put on trial like ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who was sentenced to life in prison in connection with the deaths of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 uprising against his rule, though he has been granted a retrial on appeal.

"God wreak vengeance on Morsi, who gave the orders to shoot at the protesters of Port Said, the city that fought three countries," said Ayman Mohammed Abdel-Fatah, holding a picture of his slain relative, 22-year-old Mahmoud al-Tozo. He said el-Tozo was shot four times by police during protests outside Port Said's prison.

"As long as the president's hands are stained in blood, he must leave," said Mohammed el-Assfouri, a lawyer, standing outside the Mariam mosque where mourners prayed for the dead.

Egypt's unrest began Thursday and accelerated the following day when clashes erupted nationwide amid protests by the opposition marking the two-year anniversary of the start of the uprising that toppled Mubarak. Port Said's violence was touched off Saturday when a court issued death sentences against 21 people — mostly local soccer fans — over a bloody soccer riot in the city a year ago. Youths infuriated by the verdicts marched in the streets and clashed with police at a police station and the prison.

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