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Fri., Aug. 16, 2013, 1:03 p.m.

Egypt ‘on the edge of abyss’

Egyptian firefighters battle flames at the Giza governorate buildings that were stormed and torched by angry supporters of Egypt's ousted president, Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Egypt faced a new phase of uncertainty on Thursday after the bloodiest day since its Arab Spring began, with hundreds of people reported killed and thousands injured as police smashed two protest camps of supporters of the deposed Islamist president. Wednesday's raids touched off day-long street violence that prompted the military-backed interim leaders to impose a state of emergency and curfew, and drew widespread condemnation from the Muslim world and the West, including the United States. (Hassan Ammar / Associated Press)
Egyptian firefighters battle flames at the Giza governorate buildings that were stormed and torched by angry supporters of Egypt's ousted president, Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Egypt faced a new phase of uncertainty on Thursday after the bloodiest day since its Arab Spring began, with hundreds of people reported killed and thousands injured as police smashed two protest camps of supporters of the deposed Islamist president. Wednesday's raids touched off day-long street violence that prompted the military-backed interim leaders to impose a state of emergency and curfew, and drew widespread condemnation from the Muslim world and the West, including the United States. (Hassan Ammar / Associated Press)

Egyptian firefighters battle flames at the Giza governorate buildings that were stormed and torched by angry supporters of Egypt's ousted president, Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013.

CAIRO – With astonishing speed, Egypt has moved from a nation in crisis to a nation in real danger of slipping into a prolonged bout of violence or even civil war.

Egypt has become increasingly polarized since the Islamists rose to power following the 2011 revolution that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Fault lines touching key and potentially explosive issues like identity, the rights of Christians and other minorities, and democratic values have never been more prevalent.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its hard-line allies stand at one end of a bitter standoff with secularists, liberals, moderate Muslims and Christians.

That schism grew after President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, was ousted in a July 3 military coup. But it was Wednesday’s deadly police raids – with armored bulldozers and security forces plowing through two protest camps – that will be remembered as a turning point when what had been primarily a political standoff erupted into bloodshed. Read more.

Do you think civil war in Egypt is likely?




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Cindy Hval
Cindy Hval is a freelance columnist for the Voices neighborhood sections. Her Front Porch column appears twice a month in the Thursday Voice.