Sunday’s papers: the judges, the lawyers and the students

Speaker of Parlaiment Fathi Sorour’s intervention to resolve the recent tension between judges and lawyers is the leading headline across all local papers. The crisis started when two lawyers received five-year prison sentences for assaulting a prosecutor in Tanta, northern Egypt. The lawyers syndicate responded by staging a general strike, protesting the severity of the ruling. The judges club, meanwhile, is complaining that the government is not offering enough protection to its prosecutors and judges and not doing enough to preserve their respect.

Sorour’s intervention comes after a pledge not to involve parliament in this conflict, according to independant daily Al-Shorouk. Al-Shorouk, alongside other papers, reports that Sorour met with the head of the lawyers syndicate, Hamdy Khalifa, and is scheduled to hold a meeting with the head of the Judges Club Ahmad el-Zanad. Many papers focused on Sorour’s attempt to strike a reconciliation between the two parties in conflict.

State-run Al-Akhbar writes that the meeting is part of “efforts” to resolve the conflict. Al-Ahram reports that Sorour’s intervention comes amidst what seems to be the end of the crisis.

However, Al-Dostour expounds on the effect of the crisis and the lawyers’ strike on different courts’ activities, and carried the following headline: “Lawyers’ strike leads to complete paralysis in courtrooms and attempts to resolve the conflict fail.” The paper says Sorour’s intervention indicates the government’s is leaving the lawyers’ fate to the will of the judges.

“I don’t see a contradiction between justice and defense. One completes the other. The people of the house of justice need to work together on saving this house. The parliament is independent from the judicial authority in Egypt and both of them are the pillars of justice in the country,” Sorour was quoted as saying in Al-Dostour, which did not see Sorour’s meetings with stakeholders as an attempt to solve the problem.

The Coptic question still occupies a place in today’s paper, following the hype around the Church’s recent rejection of an Administrative Court ruling recognizing second marriages. According to Al-Akhbar, Minister of Justice Mamdouh Marei said that a draft personal status law for Christians and non-Muslims is being prepared and will be submitted to parliament in 30 days. This draft law, according to him, will be an alternative to the existing law. The committee tasked to prepare the draft has representatives from different Christian denominations.

In today’s issue, Al-Dostour runs the first episode of Chief Editor Ibrahim Eissa’s interview with Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the National Association for Change. The paper leads with a piercing interview headline, quoting ElBaradei, and which reflects the paper’s perception of his politics: “I don’t want the Egyptian people to get into a conflict with the regime.” The interview foregrounds some of Eissa’s critical questions about ElBaradei’s campaign, such as the use of a discourse that is distant from the masses and the impression that ElBaradei only calls for change, rather than acting for change. “It’s not true that I only call [for change]. I don’t want to dwell on what I do, but I work in a scientific manner,” ElBaradei responded.

And it’s the thanaweya amma (high school) exam frenzy at this time of the year and local Egyptian papers do not miss it. As usual, high school exam news gets front page coverage in most local papers. Al-Akhbar reports that the first day of exams has passed smoothly with no complaints about the difficulty of the exams. Al-Ahram paints an opposite picture with a headline that reads, “Chaos in exams committees and mistakes in Arabic language exams.” The paper reports that 20 percent of exam invigilators are missing.

Al-Wafd equally describes the first day of exams as a “crisis” and reports on students’ complaints about the length of exams. The paper explains that the invigilators’ absence is due to the fact that the Education Ministry has instructed them to supervise exams in schools far away from their houses. Al-Shorouk, on the other hand, reports that the exams witnessed a “calm beginning.” About half a million students take the high school exams nation-wide.

Egypt’s newspapers:
Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt
: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size
: Daily, state-run
Rose el-Youssef:
 Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party’s Policies Secretariat
 Daily, privately owned
Daily, privately owned
 Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party
 Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party
 Weekly, privately owned
Sawt el-Umma:
 Weekly, privately owned

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