Egypt suffered a day of terrible violence Wednesday, and the bloodshed was compounded by several developments that suggest more confrontations are ahead.
Egypt’s security forces reasserted their authority on a number of fronts and gave every appearance that they would press ahead with a crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups.
Here are several examples:
State of Emergency: The interim government declared a state of emergency for a month, which includes a 7 p.m. curfew. Egyptians have a long and painful history with emergency laws and are sure to be skeptical about the timetable. The former president, Hosni Mubarak, maintained virtual martial law for three decades until he was ousted in 2011.
Mohammed Morsi, the elected president who was removed by the military on July 3, declared a month-long state of emergency back in January, giving the security forces broad powers to arrest and detain people.
Nationwide Violence: Cairo was the focal point of the clashes that left more than 200 dead, according to the Ministry of Health. But there was violence in several provinces on Wednesday, and unrest erupted in other regions in recent days. Churches belonging to Coptic Christians were targeted in several areas Wednesday, raising the prospect of sectarian violence.
Mohamed ElBaradei Resigns: A vice president and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, ElBaradei was the most prominent figure in the interim government appointed by the military. His willingness to serve helped give the government legitimacy. Egyptian liberals have long been critical of the military, but ElBaradei and others seemed to believe it could help pull the country of its current crisis. However, ElBaradei’s resignation was seen as a sign that the military is rapidly losing support among this sector.
“It has become difficult for me to continue bearing responsibility for decisions that I do not agree with and whose consequences I fear. I cannot bear the responsibility for one drop of blood,” ElBaradei said in his resignation letter.
Generals Appointed As Governors: The government appointed governors to 25 Egyptian provinces on Tuesday, and 19 of them were generals in either the military or the police. The governors have broad powers to act against dissent, and they replaced a number of Islamists who had been appointed by Morsi.