Mid-East press review: Uncertainty after violence in Egypt

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Press commentaries in Egypt's main newspapers voice sadness at the violence between police and protesters in Cairo, but refrain from blaming either side in the disturbances.

Riham Mazin, in Egypt's Al-Ahram, said the events of the past few days had made him and "all those who have ever loved Egypt cry", and "killed the joy of many Egyptians at the upcoming elections".


"We have heard a lot about Somalis fighting one another," Samir Rajab writes in Egypt's largest daily, Al-Jumhuriya.

"We have also seen reports about gang warfare in Central Africa and Ivory Coast. We never imagined that the day would come when Egypt would engage in violence and counter-violence.

"What is taking place in Tahrir Square has been done by no one else but the Egyptian people. They have been struck by disappointment."

In its editorial, the paper is cautious, criticising both Egypt's ageing ruling military council and the youthful protesters.

Egypt's transition, it says, needs both "rulers with vision" and "people of sound mind who want peace and work in the people's interests", but not "those who incite violence in order to create chaos" or "remnants of the former regime messing everyone around".


Elsewhere in the region, a Saudi paper warns that stability should be the main concern for Egypt.

"The events in Tahrir Square are harbingers of serious and unprecedented developments in Egypt, which could pit the army against the people," an editorial in Al-Watan says.

"The situation in Egypt requires all the forces to unite and... and work to guarantee Egypt's security, as the stability of the region depends on the stability of Egypt."

Another Saudi paper, Al-Jazirah, comes down clearly on the side of the military rulers, accusing the protesters of "seeking to impose their political viewpoint, without taking into account the situation of the country and its ability to meet those demands".

"The continuation of demonstrations and sit-ins in Cairo and the provinces have created a state of political and economic confusion," it adds.

'Populist cry'

The events in Egypt are being closely watched in Israel, where some commentators see the protests as motivated by a desire to impose Islamist values on the nascent democracy.

Writing in Yisrael Hayom, Reuven Berko said the demonstrations were precipitated by a joint constitutional proposal from the ruling military council and the interim government.

"The apparent intention to implement it before the elections was interpreted by the Islamic circles and the masses driven by them as an attempt to establish a 'civil society' - a society that does not put Sharia law at the centre of the government system," he writes.

"The choice is not between a military junta and a democracy that will champion human rights, protect minorities and women and uphold freedom of the press," an editorial in the Jerusalem Post warns.

It says that allowing the military authorities to hold on until 2013 would give Egypt the chance to produce a constitution that "protects human rights and basic freedoms, and prevents discrimination against minorities and women".

"Bowing to the populist cry from Tahrir Square and rushing into 'democratic elections' is liable to make Egypt's first free and open vote its last," the paper adds.

In Iran, where the authorities and many press commentators like to present the Arab Spring uprisings as largely anti-Western phenomena, the conservative paper Hemayat voices sympathy for the Tahrir Square demonstrators.

"The Egyptian people, who revolted to free themselves from the Western dependency, now feel that the army and other authorities, who enjoy Western support, are trying to hijack and divert their revolution," the Iranian daily says in an editorial.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.