(AFP) – Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Port Said on Friday to demand justice for protesters killed by Egyptian police, as a strike in the Suez Canal city entered its sixth day.
Protesters chanted against Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, while slamming the interior ministry it accuses of having killed at least 40 people in clashes with police last month.
Most factories and government offices were closed during the week, witnesses said, and expected to stay shut after the Muslim weekend of Friday-Saturday.
The protesters were demanding justice for the demonstrators killed in clashes with police in late January after a court sentenced 21 Port Said football fans to death over a deadly riot last year.
President Morsi, who called in the army and declared emergency law in Port Said after January’s violence, pledged on Tuesday to reserve 400 million Egyptian pounds ($59.4 million) of canal revenues for Port Said.
Morsi will also present a law to senate, which acts as the legislature pending parliamentary elections, on reopening a free trade zone in the city, his office said.
Residents of Port Said and other canal cities have long complained that Cairo marginalises them.
Last year’s football riot which killed 74 people, mostly supporters of a visiting Cairo team, exacerbated Port Said’s isolation, they say.
January’s clashes coincided with the second anniversary of a popular uprising that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak, bringing in a period of military rule and then Morsi’s election last June.
Port Said is one of eight provinces that will be voting in the first round of parliamentary elections on April 27 and 28, according to a presidential decree issued on Thursday.
The election comes at a time when Egypt is gripped by unrest, insecurity and a crippling economic crisis and while the country is deeply divided between Morsi’s mainly Islamist supporters and a liberal-led opposition.