Issandr El Amrani


2 February 2012

In Port Said

Port Said, the city at the northern entrance of the Suez Canal, has seen its share of pain. In 1956 it was the centre of Egyptian resistance to the Tri-Partite Aggression. Egypt's defeat by Israel in 1967 turned it into a war zone and shut down the canal, its main source of income; the city was evacuated. Even after the 1973 war restored some Egyptian pride, and Anwar Sadat gave the city duty-free status as a reward for its sacrifices, Port Said never really regained its old cosmopolitanism. After an alleged assassination attempt against Hosni Mubarak in 1999 – many people believe the ‘assassin’, who was shot dead by security forces, was carrying a letter for the president, not a weapon – some of the fiscal privileges were withdrawn. After the violence at Port Said's football stadium last night, in which at least 74 people were killed and more than 1000 wounded, it isn’t surprising to see so many Egyptians not only decry the lack of adequate policing at the stadium, but accuse the police and the military of having manufactured the whole thing.