CAIRO - Placing the blame either on the ruling military council, police or the protesters themselves, Monday's papers try to dissect the confusing situation unfolding in Tahrir Square and other squares throughout Egypt. The death count has risen above 20, with more than 1,000 injured.
Independent newspaper Al-Tahrir focuses on the resemblance between the current clashes in the square and the clashes that took place in the early days of the January revolution in the presence of former President Hosni Mubarak and his notorious interior minister, Habib al-Adly, who are now both on trial for killing protesters.
Al-Tahrir argues that, with revolutionaries in the square, police forces brutally cracking down on them and Islamic forces abstaining from the protests, little has changed since January.
The papers editor-in-chief puts it plainly in an editorial titled Is the Field Marshal following in Mubaraks footsteps? in which he blames the escalating violence on the ruling military councils poor political judgment.
As indolent as ever, Al-Ahram state newspaper publishes a spread with pictures of the violence in Tahrir Square compared to the sophistication of the elections, titled Violence hijacks politics. The pictures are supplemented by a poetic paragraph calling on the people to avoid violent confrontations and resort to political negotiations.
Regarding the effect of the current violence on the upcoming elections, Al-Shorouk quotes the head of the high elections commission reassuring the public that the elections will take place on time and that the military and police are fully ready to secure it.
Al-Ahram reports an emergency cabinet meeting yesterday followed by a meeting between the cabinet and the ruling military council to discuss the situation. Following the meeting, military council member Mohsen al-Fangary said that the elections would take place on time and warned against abusing the issue of the martyrs and injured of the revolution, Al-Ahram reports.
Culture minister resigns
It said that during the meeting the interior minister denied that live fire has been used on protesters and called those apprehended by the police rioters."
One angry reaction that came from the meeting, as reported by Al-Ahram, is that of Culture Minister Emad Abu Ghazi, who resigned in protest over the governments handling of the situation.
While officials deny any wrongdoing and assure the public that the elections will take place on time, candidates are reportedly suspending their electoral campaigns in protest over the use of excessive force against protesters. Al-Ahram reports that potential presidential candidates Amr Hamzawy and George Ishaq, as well as the 25 January Revolution Youth Coalition and the Egyptian Bloc Alliance, are threatening to suspend their electoral campaigns in the event of the continued use of excessive force against protesters.
Al-Shorouk paper covers the reactions of presidential hopefuls, who all criticized the cabinet and the military council over the events.
Fahmy Howeidy, a columnist for Al-Shorouk who had been urging people to be patient with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in his recent articles, used a noticeably harsher tone today. He blamed the council for the situation in Tahrir, saying: Nobody expected this to be happening eight months after the revolution; the military council that appeared to protect the revolution has now become a burden on it.