Egyptians online and offline are already beginning to cry foul after a Port Said court sentenced 21 defendants in the February 1, 2012 violence at a football stadium left at least 75 Al-Ahly fans dead. Many Egyptians believe that the ruling to sentence the defendants is a political move aimed at deflecting attention away from the security forces present on that day.
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No security forces or police officials were sentenced on Saturday. They will receive their verdict, with a maximum three-year jail term, on March 9.
“They are scapegoating the poor because they don’t want to give justice to those who locked the doors and allowed the killing to take place,” said 34-year-old Amr Tarak, who told Bikyanews.com at a Cairo cafe on Saturday that “this is going to be a dark day and people are going to die because the security and police are never held responsible.”
Online, as soon as the verdict – which must be approved by the Grand Mufti of Egypt before being carried out – was issued, online activists were quick to point out no security officials were among those sentenced and some of those charged were not even present at the stadium when Masry fans attacked Ahly fans with clubs, knives and other weapons, throwing some of the fans from the top levels of the stadium.
Security officials were seen in numerous videos standing in hallways not moving and allowing the violence to continue. They even barricaded the doors, barring anyone from leaving the stadium as the violence went on.
“All those sentenced to death were poor young Port Said soccer fans. No police official among them. Again, the poor is the easy scapegoat,” wrote The Big Pharaoh on Twitter.