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Thousands of Egyptians have rallied in Port Said in a show of support for residents reeling from popular anger directed against the Mediterranean city over a football riot this month that killed 74 people.

These people from Port Said are proud of the fact that where they live was once better known as the city of heroes. After all, they fought off Israeli soldiers in the 1960s.

But now, the people here have gone from being seen as patriots, to being labelled pariahs. Port Said residents have been collectively blamed for the February 1 stadium riot, and many say they have been living under a de facto siege since then, Mohammed Waked, an activist, said.

He said residents are afraid to drive out of their city with Port Said licence plates because they fear they will be attacked or insulted.

For days after the tragedy, vegetable and food suppliers from nearby cities refused to deliver to Port Said, said Waked, who was among a group of activists, politicians and public figures to visit the city on Friday to express their solidarity.

Many blame the police for their inaction that night, some even saying they purposely sat back or even instigated the violence to settle scores with fans.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports from Port Said.

Source: Al jazeera