But when death sentences followed for the 21 Port Said residents charged in the case, it was Port Said that erupted in anger. Fifty-two security personnel also charged in the incident will not be sentenced until March.
More than two dozen people were killed Saturday in clashes in Port Said while trying to storm police stations and the prison complex where the defendants were being held.
“We either redeem them or we die like them,” protesters chanted Sunday during the funeral procession, al-Jazeera’s English-language channel reported.
Witnesses said the procession quickly turned to mayhem as the crowd approached two resorts used by the police and military and came under fire.
“The moment we got there, they started shooting at us and tear gas started coming at us from the resorts, so we started throwing rocks,” said protester Mohamed Wefky, whose friend died in the Saturday clashes. Wefky said some of the caskets never made it to the graveyard as the crowd dispersed and clashes ensued. “Some of the martyrs’ bodies are still on the ground, not buried yet,” he said.
Other witnesses reported seeing protesters and security forces exchanging fire during the clashes Saturday and Sunday. Local media reported that residents also opened fire on police stations.
Abdel Rahman al-Farah, the director of Port Said’s hospitals, said that about 200 people were injured in the unrest Sunday, most by “suffocation” in the chaos of the crowd. Ten were shot, he said.
The National Defense Council, a group of security chiefs led by Morsi, deployed military troops to Port Said and Suez on Saturday.
But as clashes erupted again Sunday, residents of Port Said said there was little sign of the police or the military on the city’s streets, beyond helicopter sightings. The troops mostly kept to their barracks and stations, residents said, as chaos reigned in the streets.
Meanwhile, violence continued to flare amid thick clouds of tear gas around Cairo’s Tahrir Square and close to government buildings, including the parliament and the state television headquarters. Those battles are a continuation of the violence that erupted between anti-Islamist demonstrators and police on Friday, as opposition groups marched through the city on the anniversary of Egypt’s revolution, calling for Morsi’s ouster.