Popular victory, or death of democracy? World’s press divided over Egypt

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News of the overthrow of Egypt’s president Mohammad Mursi was splashed across newspaper front pages this morning.

But the world’s press was divided over whether the events marked a victory for millions of anti-Mursi protestors, or a heavy handed coup that threatens Egypt’s fledgling democracy.

“Despite his failings, and there were plenty, President Mohamed Mursi was Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, and his overthrow by the military on Wednesday was unquestionably a coup,” said a New York Times editorial this morning.

“Just how the generals will play the power game this time is unclear, but their prolonged rule would not bode well for Egypt’s future,” the newspaper added.

While thousands of civilians last night celebrated in the streets of Cairo, several media outlets continued to question the actions of the military.

“What is clear beyond doubt is that [the actions of the Egyptian military] amount to a ruinous intervention in the politics of a country that had breathed the air of democracy for the first time for decades,” Jonathan Steele, a columnist at The Guardian, wrote today.

“Those who believe the Egyptian army's priority is to preserve freedom will soon be disappointed,” he added.

Whilst several newspapers have termed the military intervention a ‘coup’, some said the move would be beneficial for the Egyptian people.

“No one should revel in the deposition of an elected leader by a country’s military, but this is not a coup in the traditional sense,” wrote Robert Satloff of the Washington Post.

“Inaction, not intervention, would have been criminal,” he added.

Questions were also raised over the a lack of a unified objective of the protesters.

“The protesters are an inchoate mix of angry people, who know that something is wrong, but they do not have a single ideology or politics to unite them beyond their anger at the present state of their country,” wrote Francis Matthew, Gulf News’ Editor at Large.

As the 48-hour deadline set by the army arrived yesterday, the Egyptian military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sissi announced the ousting of former president and suspended the Islamist-drafted constitution.

To the anger of a minority of Egyptians, the former president has currently been detained by the military for “preventative” measures, military and Muslim Brotherhood sources have been quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, in a quick attempt to restore parity to Egyptian politics, the head of Egypt's Supreme Constitutional court Adli Mansour was sworn in on Thursday as the interim head of state. Mansour will serve as the country’s provisional president until a new leader is elected.