Citizens of Suez, Port Said and Ismailia took to the streets on Sunday night following President Mohamed Morsy’s decision to impose a 9pm to 6am curfew for 30 days and to implement emergency law in the cities in an attempt to quell violence in the canal region.
The armed forces published a statement on its official Facebook page on Monday in which the head of the armed forces, Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi expressed “thanks, appreciation and gratitude to the brave people of the Suez Canal for their sincere support for the efforts of the armed forces to restore security and stability.”
However, reports from the ground tell a different story.
Clashes between police and demonstrators have been ongoing in Port Said since Saturday following a court decision to sentence 21 people to death for their role in the Port Said Stadium massacre where at least 72 football fans died following a match between Al-Ahly and Al-Masry football clubs.
The relatives of those sentenced attempted to storm the prison to free them and in the ensuing clashes two policemen were killed. At the time of writing the death toll stood at 38 in Port Said.
Calls have been made for protests to defy the curfew.
A Daily News Egypt reporter in Suez said there were approximately a thousand people in ‘Arbayin Square protesting against Morsy’s decision to implement a curfew in the city. He reported that the leader of the popular resistance in Suez, Hafiz Salama said protests would continue after in opposition to the curfew.
The army have been deployed in Suez but they focused their efforts on protecting buildings and did not intervene to implement the curfew.
The spokesperson also announced on Monday that the armed forces have transferred all prisoners from the Ataqa prison to a high security facility after attempts by people to free the prisoners.
On Monday Suez was reported to be calm and the city was functioning normally.
A resident of Ismailia, Mohamed Emam said he estimated that between 600 and 700 people were out in the streets on Sunday night. “The people were protesting in the streets and they became angrier after Morsy’s announcement of the curfew.” The protesters burned cars and damaged property.
Emam said: “I did not join the protests; this is not the way to do things.” He reported that on Tuesday morning the streets were strewn with burnt out vehicles. He also observed that the armed forces were not present in the city.
The spokesperson for the armed forces published a separate statement on Sunday night confirming that troops had been deployed in Port Said to protect buildings and to secure the streets. The statement emphasised the importance of maintaining the normal running of the Suez Canal.
Additional reporting by Hassan Ghonema