Middle East

Middle East Media on Egypt violence

Man raises fist to air
Image caption Angry Egyptians on streets after Sunday's clashes

As Egypt's ruling military council orders an urgent probe into Sunday's clashes between Coptic Christians and the security forces in Cairo, which left at least 26 dead and more than 300 injured, the regional media reflect on possible repercussions for the country's efforts to achieve transition from military to civilian rule.

In Egypt itself, papers say the violence, which focused on the state TV and radio building in Cairo's Maspero Square, could push the country towards civil war and warn that the "outlaws" behind it must not be allowed to drive a wedge between Muslims and Christians.

Commentators in the region fear the violence and its political fallout could derail the plans for the November election. Some criticise the interim rulers for not doing enough to stem the clashes and call for any discrimination to be swiftly outlawed. Other writers suggest that outside forces, such as the US and Saudi Arabia, might have a hand in the clashes in a bid to discredit Egypt's Islamists.


The recent events that reached their peak in the Maspero clashes show that outlaws are driving the nation towards a dangerous slope. Nothing can justify the violence, whatever the demonstrators' demands.


The people will not allow any forces to separate a Muslim and a Christian brother… After two days of riots and lack of security, it is time to reflect… and to realise what has been true throughout history: 'Religion is for God and Egypt is for everyone'.


Mubarak has fallen but the dictatorship is still in place. It is true that the military council earlier reactivated the emergency law but the bloody 'Maspero battle' may entrench this law and delay the election and handing over power to civilians. When the voices of condemnation and calm rise from [Cairo's] al-Azhar [mosque] and the mufti, shaykhs and priests and… [military council head Mohamed] Tantawi are absent since the start of the clashes, there is a problem that deepens our concern about Egypt.


What happened on Sunday… is scary, dangerous and provokes anger. Egypt is at a real crossroads... It is time to put an end to any discrimination, marginalization or call for support by an external party. The rule of law must be activated. All Egyptians should be treated equally and sectarian instigation should be treated as a crime… The alternative will be chaos… and would result in allowing the remnants of the former regime to restore their hegemony and write the agenda of another system which would be much worse than that of Hosni Mubarak and his gang.


If Copts do not feel that the Egyptian revolution has liberated them completely from centuries of fear and injustice, then the revolution becomes a mere coup against a corrupt system that succeeded in bringing down its icons but did not reach the level of overthrowing its concepts… The explosion of Coptic anger at the Maspero in this painful bloody way is a major setback for the Egyptian revolution… The revolution will be meaningless if the Copts leave it and the extremist Muslims join it.


It is difficult for anyone to believe that Sunday's escalation was spontaneous… Internal and external forces are opposed to parliamentary elections being held in Egypt and Tunisia. This is because the success of these elections would mean that Arabs are no longer a people unworthy of democracy… and that the era of dictating to them and interfering in their affairs, which was exercised shamelessly by foreign forces, has to end immediately.


A report on the ongoing unrest in Egypt… claims that the attack was launched by a "Salafi minority" backed by Saudi Arabia and the US in order to portray an 'unrealistic picture of the Egyptian Islamists'.


As its premier said, everything that happened yesterday in Egypt is a malicious conspiracy that targets this country and its people, who should stick to their unity and confront the conspiracy.


What happened outside Maspero… may be the most dangerous event since the 25 January revolution… The Egyptian people are bigger than this sedition and are capable - apart from their leadership - to overcome it wisely.


Maspero's events and the Coptic demonstration… clearly indicate that the old social and sectarian bitterness still exists… and could explode in the Egyptian street at any moment… It is unfortunate that the Egyptian government's performance is weak and lacks initiative as its statements did not go beyond expressing regret. For two days, the Egyptian government seemed to be out of the picture.

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.