Violence in Egypt following a court ruling condemning 21 fans to death for soccer hooliganism that left dozens dead leads the news in Arab media on Sunday.
“A ‘revolution’ in the cities of the Egyptian canal, and the security council hints at ‘emergency,’” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat on Sunday, highlighting the sensitivity of the protests’ proximity to “the most important shipping passage in the world.”
Fans of Cairo’s Al-Ahli soccer club celebrated the court’s verdict on Friday, but relatives of the condemned, residents of Port Said, began protesting immediately following the reading, which fell on the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution which toppled Hosni Mubarak.
“Egypt’s long night,” reads the headline of editor-in-chief Tareq Homayed, who regards the violence in Egypt as an authentic sign of discontentment with the regime of Mohammed Morsi.
“The events of January 25 … show the optimists, or those in doubt, that Egypt’s night is long and that the opposition to the rule of the [Muslim] Brotherhood runs deep. It increases day by day, despite all attempts to quell it, through the media, politically or even by intimidation,” writes Homayed.
Al-Quds Al-Arabi, its tone traditionally more alarmist, leads with the headline “Egypt burns: Street wars, attacks on government buildings and Brotherhood headquarters.”
In a separate small article, the daily reports a brutal sexual assault by a mob at Tahrir Square. The young woman, who was reportedly undressed by thugs, was rescued by a group of anti-regime protesters belonging to the Black Bloc movement.
London-based newspaper Al-Hayat, displaying a photo of a news station’s vehicle being burnt in Port Said, reports in its headline that the Suez Canal is under the military’s control. President Morsi has called for national dialogue on mechanisms of running transparent elections which marginalize no one, the daily reports, criticizing the police for excessive use of violence against protesters.
Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera warns of the return of Mubarak loyalists, locally known as feloul, to Egypt’s political scene.
“Despite a clause in the new constitution removing some members of the previous regime, the Egyptian reality indicates that remnants of the old regime are still present and strong. They have succeeded in infiltrating the top ranks under the protection of certain political forces,” reads the report.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s establishment daily Al-Ahram reports Sunday on a “new massacre in Port Said,” putting the blame squarely on the families of the 21 convicted men.
“The families of the accused were angry, screaming and wailing. A large number of people in the crowd tried to storm the prison and rescue the convicted men, clashing with security forces … the state of anarchy and anger among the families led to the destruction of public buildings, cars and attacks against a number of journalists,” reads the report.
Al-Ahram dedicates a separate article to a denial by the spokesman of the military that live ammunition was used against the protesters in Port Said.
Meanwhile, independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm is somewhat more critical of the government’s version of events, quoting angry residents of Port Said who claimed the court ruling was “politicized” in favor of the Ultras, the fan club of the Al-Ahli team.
The newspaper’s columnist Muhammad Salmawi writes on Sunday that when standing at Tahrir Square on January 25, he felt as though he were taken back two years.
“It was the same old faces from all segments of society; young and old, men and women. I heard the same calls, witnessed the same anger and determination,” writes Salmawi.
“Two years after the Brotherhood and its allies the Salafis and Jihadists tried to marginalize women, pictures of women throughout the ages were waved high in the square: Huda Shaarawi, Daria Shafiq, Um Kolthum and Suad Hosni.”
In a bittersweet op-ed in A-Sharq Al-Awsat, Egyptian playwright Ali Salem describes how he entered a travel agency and asked for a one way ticket to Cairo, despite the fact he was sitting right near Talaat Harb Square in downtown Cairo.
“Egypt is my country,” writes Salem. “I never said I wanted to travel to it, I wanted to return to it.”