In Egypt's deadliest violence since Hosni Mubarak's overthrow in February, at least 25 people were killed and hundreds more injured Sunday in clashes between Coptic Christian demonstrators, Muslims, and security forces. Some of the dead were reportedly crushed by police personnel carriers; others were killed when, for the first time since Mubarak stepped down, soldiers allegedly fired on protesters. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf promised an investigation, but is the bloodshed a sign that Egypt's revolution has already been derailed?
This is a very bad sign: The violence "marks an ominous development in the story of Egypt's unfinished revolution," says William Dalrymple in Britain's Guardian. The demonstrators were peacefully protesting hate crimes against the minority Copts. Whether you see this as an attempt by the army to justify delaying November elections or "just clumsy crowd control," it's clear that the dream of a better tomorrow has faded, at least for Egypt's Coptic Christians.
"Egypt's Coptic Christians face an uncertain future"
There is still hope for democracy: This was definitely the "ugliest eruption of violence" since the military took over, says The Economist. "Not only Copts, but secular parties and even the Muslim Brotherhood have condemned the government's hesitancy" to do anything about the hate attacks against the Coptic minority, other than calling for unity. But plans for parliamentary elections are moving forward, so there's still hope that the junta's dithering is just a speed bump on the road to democracy.
"A bloody Sunday in Cairo"
Things could get worse before getting better: "The rules of the post-Mubarak game are literally and figuratively being written by an opaque committee of generals," says Tony Karon at TIME. But the crowds "who risked life and limb to oust Mubarak last February are increasingly unwilling to accept the junta's terms." As the weekend's bloodshed proved, that's a volatile formula that could mean Egypt's springtime flowering could be headed into "a bitter and uncertain winter."
"As violence roils Cairo's streets, what does Egypt's junta want?"