Since Morsis June election, Egypt has been a tinderbox of uncontrollable violence. The June presidential election unleashed a politically divisive state and the subsequent protests weakened an already fragile economy. That, and the governments repeated response of gassing protesters, seemed to instigate violence as much as it curtailed it.
I work in tourism but I am not working now. I am here to tell the Morsi government to do the right thing either sack the government or find me a job, said Noor al Din Mahmoud, 29, a protester in the square.
It is not surprising that this ruling in particular set off so many emotions here. Before the 2011 uprising, soccer _ not politics _ dominated Egyptian everyday talk. In a nation where soccer games could be heard across the city, team rivalries run far deeper than the U.S. equivalent, as passionate as Michigan-Ohio State, the Steelers-Ravens and Patriots-Vikings rivalries combined. The deaths of 74 fans enflamed already heated passions where both teams are backed by ultras, or supporters, who can draw thousands to the streets.
In Cairo, hard-core fans, called ultras, supporting al-Ahly gathered at subway stations and closed off a major bridge to express their support of the ruling. Other protesters moved toward the Shura Council, or lower parliamentary, building.
For the second time in two days, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi deployed the Egyptian military into the nations streets, sending tanks to Port Said. A day earlier, tanks appeared in the city of Suez after at least seven were on the two-year anniversary of the 2011 uprising that led to Mubaraks fall and, in June, Morsis ascension.
Morsi also met with the National Defense Council for the first time since he fired the top military brass in August and restructured the Egyptian militarys leadership to discuss how to secure the country from the spiraling chaos.
But he made no public statements about the mounting crisis for which many held him responsible. His silence was deafening as the country appeared to be devolving toward bedlam. A day earlier, he tweeted his condolences at 1 a.m. to those killed in Suez and vowed to investigate in a nation where 40 percent are illiterate and computers are considered a luxury.
Instead, his Minister of Information, Salah Abdel Maqsoud, appeared on state television Saturday evening and read a statement saying that there could be a curfew in cities that had seen unrest along with emergency law. He also said the Morsi government called on the nation to respect the courts ruling.
Meanwhile, the Port Said court said it would rule on the fate of the 52 other defendants not sentenced Saturday on March 9.
(Amina Ismail contributed.)