Sunday’s papers: Fires, martyrs, military violations… and elections

Qasr al-Aini street in downtown Cairo has been a virtual war zone for the past three days. Ten people have died, including a popular centrist religious scholar, Emad Eddin Effat, and an Ain Shams medical student, Alaa Abdelhady, who was trying to tend to the wounded.

Public property was destroyed in the clashes yesterday, including the Egyptian Scientific Institute, located next to the Shura Council building. According to the state’s flagship newspaper, Al-Ahram, 200,000 books were damaged in the fire. Al-Ahram blames protesters engaged in a sit-in outside the cabinet for the fire and the “loss of a piece of Egyptian history,” although the fire happened a full day after the military began attacking protesters, killing and detaining many.  

Al-Ahram dedicates a full photospread to depicting civilian protesters as knife-wielding, stone-throwing, fire-setting thugs. Despite the overwhelming abundance of media documenting military violations against civilians and peaceful protesters, Al-Ahram neglects to mention these incidents except through the publication of statements made by opposition members.

State-run Al-Akhbar reports that the military only used batons to clear the cabinet sit-in, yet many videos circulating on the internet show men in uniform firing hand guns at fleeing protesters. The journalistic practices of many state-run papers are akin to that of neutered jack rabbits attempting to conceive. They accept government statements as news while abstaining from reporting the facts on the ground, which have been widely documented and circulated online.

The Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) and Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri both issued statements yesterday insisting that the military did not fire a single shot or use excessive violence during the forced evacuation of the sit-in. Independent newspaper Al-Tahrir has one response for them on their front page: A photo of a disrobed female protester being dragged through the street by two military officers as a third stomps on her carries the tagline “Liars” in large, red letters.

State-run Al-Akhbar chooses to dedicate a full page to speculation about foreign agendas and conspiracy theories. The only mention made of military violations is peripheral. The paper notes, however, that a majority of political parties and groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Karama Party, the Wafd Party, the Ghad Party, the Free Egyptians Party and others, have condemned the attacks and hold the SCAF responsible for the loss of life.

Al-Tahrir runs a back cover obituary for Emad Eddin Effat, the “Martyr Sheikh.” Around ten thousand people reportedly attended his funeral in a massive procession yesterday. Funeral-goers condemned the military council during the procession. Al-Tahrir reports that a popular chant was: “They killed a sheikh from Al-Azhar, and the Field Marshal is responsible.” Another large funeral procession began after mourners prayed over the body of Alaa Abdelhady in the Nour mosque in Abbasseya. Mourners marched toward Tahrir after the respective burials.

All papers lament the burning of the Egyptian Scientific Institute. Independent Al-Shorouk quotes Mohamed Afifi, a Cairo University researcher, as saying that the fact that the building was allowed to go up in flames is evidence that there is general ignorance regarding its importance. “The government does not understand the cultural significance of the compound, regardless of who set it alight,” he said, noting the slow response of the authorities in putting out the fire or securing the building.

Al-Shorouk reports that the SCAF's new civilian advisory council plans to launch an immediate investigation into the clashes. Nine out of 35 members of the council have resigned in protest of the government’s handling of the matter. According to Al-Tahrir, the council has suspended its activities for the time being.

For those who remember, we’re still in the middle of elections. The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) announced in their paper that in the second round of voting the party won 39 percent of the seats that were contested through the electoral lists system. The Nour Party will win 31 percent of the seats, and the Wafd is the most improved party in the second elections at 22 percent, according to polling quoted in Al-Ahram. Al-Akhbar, on the other hand, differs on its indicators for Nour and Wafd, predicting that the parties garnered 25 percent and 9 percent of seats respectively, while it predicts a similar high margin for the FJP.

According to the high elections commission, voter turnout for the second round of elections was around 60 percent.  

The Nile Cotton Ginning Company is the latest privatized company to receive an order returning it to the state. A court order nullified the 1997 contracts due to irregularities and non-competitive purchasing prices, Al-Shorouk says.

Al-Ahram reports that the state has allocated 2 million acres of land to begin harvesting wind energy immediately in the Minya, Assiut and Bani Suweif governorates with the aim of expanding renewable energy production.

Egypt's papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Youm7: Daily, privately owned

Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned

Freedom and Justice: Daily, published by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Nasserist Party

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