British press hails Egypt's 'Berlin Wall moment'

12th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's newspapers on Saturday welcomed the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, declaring it a defining moment in history, but there were fears too for the uncertain future of the region.

Most major nationals had pictures from Cairo's Tahrir Square on the front page.

"History Unfolds" The Times headline proclaimed.

Mubarak's downfall had brought "joy, hope and freedom to Egypt but also the threat of uncertainty and change in a volatile region.

"It has been this generation's Berlin Wall moment."

Politics throughout the Arab world had been changed forever, The Times wrote.

But it warned: "What lies ahead is now far from clear... Egypt has been both a warning and an inspiration."

"You don't need to be Egyptian to celebrate today," wrote The Sun, Britain's top-selling daily.

"The magnificent sight of People Power finally overwhelming a corrupt dictator cheers every heart."

But Egypt needed "honest, democratic, pro-Western leadership, not Islamic fundamentalism," it added.

"Let's trust People Power to deliver the right result once again."

The Financial Times business daily called it the "Nile Revolution", but it too focussed on the political uncertainty facing the region.

"Instability is the new certainty.

"But opportunity is boundless, and if the West wishes to recover its standing in the Arab world it must stay firmly on the side of freedom."

Thirty years of dictatorship had gone in 30 seconds, wrote The Guardian.

"This is a moment of historic significance. It re-establishes Egypt as the leader of the Arab world and Egyptians at its moral core," it said.

"Politically, Egypt may become more like Turkey. For Egyptians did not merely re-establish their independence from Mr Mubarak. They also demonstrated their independence from the US and its allies."

The Daily Telegraph said Mubarak's fall was a momentous event for the most populous Arab nation, but the consequences for Egypt were hard to discern.

"Be in no doubt: what is being hailed as a triumph of people power is, in essence, a military takeover," the broadsheet warned, adding that Mubarak's exit "may mark the beginning of the country's crisis, not its end".

The paper feared a repeat of what it said had happened in Iran, "where a revolution that also began as a secular movement was hijacked by Islamist theocrats.

"The same must not be allowed to happen in Egypt, especially not with the Muslim Brotherhood lurking."

The Independent called on the Egyptian army to hand control to the people.

"Everything now depends on how the military uses its power," it said.

"It should honour its promise to end the state of emergency, defer so far as possible to civilian ministers, and preside over a swift move to elected government.

"Unfortunately, precedent suggests that mighty military establishments can be just as reluctant to cede power as undemocratic presidents."

© 2011 AFP

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