Press predicts dire future for ‘powder keg’ Egypt

The crackdown in Egypt has caused international condemnation AFP

The Swiss media sees a difficult future for Egypt, with no prospect of a return to democracy soon, after the country was rocked by violence on Wednesday.

This content was published on August 15, 2013 - 10:23

Hundreds of people were killed when the authorities forcibly broke up camps of supporters protesting against the ousting of  former president Mohammed Mursi, in the worst nationwide bloodshed in decades.

The interim government has declared a state of emergency and a curfew was in force across parts of Egypt on Wednesday night.

Protesters, backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, had been demanding the reinstatement of Mursi who was ousted by the military on July 3. The crackdown has resulted in international condemnation.

Army unmasked

“Egypt has woken up this morning with the taste of blood in its mouth. Almost 280 deaths, hundreds injured and the strong image of a veiled woman trying to stop a bulldozer…” is how the Tribune de Genève saw the situation.

It saw the authorities’ actions as “carnage” reflecting the strong will to crush the Muslim Brotherhood resistance, and pointed out that the state of emergency has been declared by the same generals who had realised the military coup on July 3 “in the name of the people”.

Zurich’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung saw the army as having “lost its innocence” and a new and bloody stage in Egypt’s transformation.

The editorial went on to say that the army had been unmasked and that it had now lost its go-between role for the people and the government.

Martyrdom and the need for revenge could escalate, it added. But, the author noted, some of the young rebels have seen through the army’s games and were clamouring for the revolution to be saved – a call that needs support.

Le Temps had an eyewitness account from Egypt. The correspondent said that the day had been a failure for all those in favour of moderation-  including the resignation of Vice-President Mohammed ElBaradei from the interim government, a man who had always called for negotiations.

Inevitable and explosive

The Tages-Anzeiger spoke with Swiss Islam expert Reinhard Schulze, who found the escalation in Egypt was inevitable. Religious extremists were likely to win out, he concluded.

Asked whether democracy could survive in Egypt, he replied that it would certainly be a long process that would require the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood in the drawing up of a constitution. But he had doubts as to whether the organisation would be prepared to do this.

The tabloid Blick warned that “the big bang is still to come”.  It said that the “powder keg Egypt could explode at any moment” and that the mix was explosive: a quarrelling elite, economic stagnation and “the diffuse, rampant anger of the 84-million strong population”.

Its editorial said that one could already be tempted to use the words civil war to describe the chaos the country was going through – as the Tribune de Genève has also mooted.

And, it saw that reasonable discussion or even reconciliation are not possible, given the entrenched positions of the two sides. “An end to the violence is not foreseeable”, it concluded.

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