CAIRO: Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa issued a statement Wednesday calling for an immediate investigation into the Port Said “massacre.”
“Any action that leads to bloodshed or sedition is religiously prohibited,” he said. Gomaa also noted that Egypt is undergoing “extraordinary circumstances and the wise must contain the situation.”
On his Twitter account, Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei asked, “What is the magnitude of the tragedy that will move the sense of humanity and responsibility in those in power to come out and address the people bravely and honestly?”
He also said that, “failure to restructure the security apparatus immediately is a crime against the nation.”
Presidential hopefuls issued statements immediately condemning the violence and urging the security authorities to take action against the security vacuum.
“The authorities must take the necessary measures to face this security vacuum with no exceptions and those responsible for the events must be held accountable,” said presidential hopeful and former Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa.
Moussa offered his condolences to the families of the victims and described the events as “another sad day in the history of Egypt as Egyptians’ hearts are wrenching in pain and sorrow for the victims.”
On his part, presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi said the events were “not riots during a soccer match but a political crime.”
“The responsibility for this bloodshed lies in the hands of those ruling the country now, starting with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the government and the Ministry of Interior,” he said in a statement, explaining that they have failed to secure the country in the past months.
“[I] reject the idea that the Egyptian citizen has to choose between dignity and freedom or security,” Sabahi said.
Islamic intellectual and presidential hopeful Mohamed Selim Al-Awa said in a statement that the events of the past week, including an armed bank robbery, are all linked.
“[I] strongly believe that those events are related in a political conspiracy that aims at creating chaos, loss of what the revolution has accomplished and demolishing the democratic structure that is represented in the elected parliament and the upcoming presidential elections,” he said, adding that security authorities and SCAF bear the responsibility for these events.
On his part, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the military council, received Al-Ahly players at the East Cairo military airbase as they returned from Port Said in a military aircraft.
“No one will be able to destabilize Egypt, we are moving in the [right] direction,” he said in a brief statement to the press at the airbase.
Tantawi said that similar incidents take place everywhere in the world and those who did it are Egyptians, urging people not to “stay silent” about them.
He added that “Egypt’s security is stable” and that the injured will be treated at military and other hospitals while the families of the victims will be compensated.
SCAF issued a statement declaring three days of mourning for those who lost their lives during the violent clashes.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Amr ordered that the flag at all Egyptian embassies and consulates around the world, as well at the ministry, to be at half-mast during the three days of mourning.
Al-Azhar also issued a statement offering its condolences and calling for penalizing those responsible for the tragic events. The statement urged citizens to stay away from hostility and bloodshed.
Dar Al-Ifta, an official body which gives religious advice, the Syndicate of Al-Ashraf, decedents of the Prophet Mohamed, and the Sufis issued a joint statement saying that they will be cancelling all celebrations marking the Prophet’s birthday on Saturday.
By press time the Ministry of Health had set the death toll at 74, with cause of death mainly through blunt force trauma, injuries by sharp tools, brain hemorrhage and concussions. There are 248 injured.