Official: Port Said violence trial in cultural center ‘over my dead body’

Work has resumed at the Ismailia Cultural Center after it was commandeered last week by security officers preparing it as a venue to try those accused in the Port Said football massacre, Saad Abdel Rahman, chairman of the General Authority for Cultural Centers, has said.

"Over my dead body will this trial be held inside the center," Abdel Rahman said, adding that he had decided to resign before the interior and justice ministers cancelled their decision to hold the trial there.
Abdel Rahman said the GACC is still keen to keep cultural centers' doors open for different political groups seeking to present their political and cultural platforms and programs as long as they keep to the regulations set by the GACC.
Abdel Rahman told Al-Masry Al-Youm that he "will not allow the use of cultural sites for any political activities other than campaigning in its different forms, including parliamentary and presidential campaigning," and that "religious groups are allowed to use the [cultural sites] for any activities provided that they do not cause sectarian tensions."   
He said that using the Ismailia Cultural Center to prosecute the Port Said defendants would have led to the "destruction of cultural activity in the entire city of Ismailia, and even destroy the entire city, because relatives of the accused may riot." He added that the idea was a result of the "ignorance and arrogance of certain bodies."
He pointed out that the reaction of the GACC and intellectuals was "a message to whoever tries to commandeer any cultural site in Egypt."
Over 70 people died in Port Said Stadium after a premier league match on 1 February, in a massacre that has widely been blamed on the wilful negligence of the police and security services.
Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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