Stickers and graffiti have popped up on the walls and storefronts of downtown Cairo over the past week reminding passers by of a court hearing to be held this Saturday in the Port Said soccer disaster trial.
"Punishment or chaos," they say.
Today, the ultras went on a brief rampage, blocking Cairo's main underground metro line and setting fire to tires on the October 6th Bridge, one of the city's main thoroughfares. They also protested briefly, and somewhat inexplicably, in front of the stock market - all apparently as part of a pre-hearing escalation meant to pressure the court to not postpone its verdict.
But it's possible that is exactly what will happen. Judicial sources interviewed by Ahram Online say the court has recently received new evidence against the 73 defendants, likely necessitating a postponement.
All this means that there is a pile of tinder waiting to be set alight by the ultras. The hearing comes a day after the second anniversary of the revolution, when large anti-government protests are planned in Tahrir Square and at the presidential palace. Tensions will be high, especially if President Morsi's supporters rally, even if Morsi has now "officially" recognized the Port Said victims as revolution martyrs (I didn't know that was part of his job). The ultras were the fuel that kept the November 2011 Mohamed Mahmoud clashes going, and they were ready to fight again on the anniversary a few months ago, before the security forces literally walled off every possible approach. It's not a stretch to say the soccer fans could decide the path of these next few days of protest.