Egypt: Free Port Said 21

By Yossi Schwartz
Internationalist Socialist League
RCIT-Section in Israel/Occupied Palestine
April 2013

On Saturday,9 March, 2013 ,an Egyptian court approved the death sentences previously handed down to 21 defendants in the Port Said soccer riot case and sentenced more than 20 others to prison terms. At the same time, the organizer of the massacre, former Port Said security chief Major General Essam Samak, was sentenced to 15 years in prison – a sentence which will surely be overturned or shortened in the near future. At least seven other security officers responsible for the massacre were among those acquitted of all charges.

Comrades, brothers and sisters, we must prevent the execution of the 21 brothers which the reactionary pro-imperialist regime in Egypt intends to murder in cold blood. It is necessary to organize worldwide protests against the Morsi government with the demand: Free the 21!

Who are these brothers and why does the Morsi government seek their execution? According to Sarah Mousa, a reporter from Al Jazeera:

“Over a year ago, the Suez Canal city of Port Said was thrust into the centre of Egypt’s ongoing revolution… thugs, armed with knives and batons, attacked Ultras Ahly club members, throwing them off bleachers and mercilessly beating them. Fans ran frantically for the exit, only to find that stadium doors had been locked. The sparse security present stood idly, while the Port Said governor, a regular attendee of local matches, was nowhere in sight. For approximately two hours, the nation watched on their television screens as over 70 Ahly fans were killed in the stadium. The Ultras Ahly members had been the most active and vocal opponents of the SCAF junta; SCAF’s message, that resistance would not be tolerated, was clear to all. Official discourse insisted that the incident could be blamed on Al-Masry team fans or Port Said locals.“ (Sarah Mousa: Port Said: New centre for Egypt’s revolution, 6.2.2013)

Following the massacre in the stadium, Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi urged the Egyptian population to kill the Ultras: “Why are the Egyptian people silent? They must do something.”

The Muslim Brotherhood claims that the Port Said Stadium massacre was carried out by a mysterious third party, foreigners or revolutionaries. In reality, the thugs were similar to the tugs on the camels. During the Russian revolution, these types were called “the Black Hundreds” – the predecessors of the Italian fascists and German Nazis, among others.

Today, Port Said is again at the center of Egypt’s revolution, as the 21 – mainly Ultras members and young students – are set to be executed. Morsi, in the meantime, has called to respect the court’s decision. This verdict is part of the counter-revolution of the capitalist ruling class which Morsi and the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood serve. Morsi, subservient to the imperialist powers, is trying to kill the revolution to secure a loan promised to him by the IMF.

Several trade-union leaders have already called for the judge who presided over the trial of the 21 to be dismissed, or for an apology for the violence from the president. Instead of useless talk by the union bureaucracy, workers in the trade unions and in the left groups in Egypt should demand from their leaders to organize an open-ended general strike until the 21 are released. To this end, action committees should be created inside and outside the labor movement.

However, the only way for the masses to achieve their democratic rights is for the working class to lead the struggle for democracy in Egypt. As the experience of the Morsi government shows, the Egyptian capitalists are completely incapable of consistently opposing imperialism, and will invariably sacrifice the interests of the masses to secure their class privileges and power.

The independence of the working class means no political support for the National Salvation Front. The last thing that the bourgeois politicians of this front, which includes Hamdeen Sabahi, Amr Moussa, Abdul Ghan and Mohammed al-Baradei, want, is a workers revolution. To the trade unions and those left groups which tail the bourgeois politicians we say: break from the bourgeoisie and fight for the workers! The burning task is to build a Bolshevik type revolutionary party in Egypt, fighting not only for the democratic demands but for a socialist revolution. We offer the following demands for a mass movement of the workers:

Expropriate the foreign imperialist companies, the army generals and businesses under democratic control of the workers!

Coordinate the activity of the masses through workers’, peasants and soldiers’ committees!

Organize self-defense groups for the demonstrators and for the strike!

For a workers’ government, supported by the peasants and the poor!

Bring down Morsi’s capitalist pro-imperialist government!

However, we believe that these demands can only be won through a socialist revolution which will overthrow Egyptian capitalism and replace it with a state ruled by the Egyptian working class, serving the interests of the masses:

For a workers’ state in Egypt!

For a Socialist Federation of the Middle East!

For a New Communist Fifth International!

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