Thursday’s papers: Controversy over new ‘Islamist’ editors

The announcement of new editors-in-chief of state-owned publications dominates the headlines of Thursday’s papers.

While independent papers claim that the new shuffle is a part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ongoing attempts to Islamize the state, state-owned papers just mention the names of the new top editors without commentary.

State-run daily Al-Ahram daily lists the new appointees for the following state-run papers: Abdel Naser Salama for Al-Ahram, Mohamed Hassan al-Bana for Akhbar Al-Youm, Suleiman Qenawy for Al-Akhbar, Gamal Abdel Raheem for Al-Gomhurriya, Shaker Gamal Eddin for the Middle East News Agency (MENA), and Essam Abdel Aziz for Rose al-Youssef magazine.

Several of the new editors named Wednesday by the Shura Council, the upper house of Egypt’s Parliament, have Islamist leanings, which raised concerns over the Muslim Brotherhood’s alleged attempt to monopolize state-owned papers.

Salama, who now heads the state’s flagship paper Al-Ahram, wrote a column against Pope Shenouda in 2010, accusing him of provoking sectarian strife between Muslims and Christians.

It is also alleged that Mohammed Hassan al-Bana of Akhbar al-Youm daily paper is the grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood's founder, Hassan al-Bana.

Privately owned daily Youm7 states that the Brotherhood is following in the footsteps of the dissolved National Democratic Party by seeking to control state media’s editorial policies. A number of editors and journalists issued a statement Wednesday calling on columnists to publish blank opinion articles on Thursday in protest against appointing the group’s loyalists to key media positions, Youm7 adds.

While almost all the column spaces for independent papers Youm7, Al-Watan, and Al-Tahrir were left unwritten, but signed “in protest of the Brotherhood’s attempts to control press and media,” unsurprisingly, state-owned columnists did not respond to the call.

Independent paper Al-Shorouk writes that the press figures also agreed on forming a bloc to confront the rigid stance of the Brotherhood on taking the same strong grip over state’s publications that Mubarak’s old regime once exercised.     

Reporting on the same news, privately owned daily Al-Dostour writes that tens of journalists from both independent and state-run papers staged a protest in front of Shura Council Wednesday. They have called for the change of the new editors and the resignation of the head of Journalists Syndicate, Mamdouh al-Wali, who is affiliated with the Brotherhood.

Today’s Freedom and Justice paper, the mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, allocates a two-page spread for the biographical information of the newly-appointed editors along with the history of each newspaper. The long feature is published under the headline, “National papers in a new dress.”

The news of the Egyptian army killing Sinai militants in response to Sunday’s border brutal assault is also highlighted in today’s papers.

The liberal party paper Al-Wafd shares identical headlines with Al-Shorouk: “The army starts the revenge battle for martyrs.”

However, there are discrepancies in the reported figures. While Al-Shorouk states that military forces killed 20 militants in a series of raids in the Sinai region bordering Israel on Wednesday, Al-Wafd writes that the death toll for the attack rises to 100.

The Egyptian air raids are a strike back after gunmen attacked several security checkpoints in the Sinai Peninsula last Sunday, killing 16 Egyptian security officers. Al-Shorouk quotes an anonymous military source as saying, “The attack succeeded in arresting 15 terrorists, injuring tens and destroying three armored cars belonging to militants.”

Finally, independent daily Al-Tahrir publishes a feature on President Mohamed Morsy’s order to force head of intelligence Murad Muwafi to retire in the wake of the Egypt-Israel border attack. Abdel Wahed Shehata has been appointed as the interim head of General Intelligence instead.

The announcement was made after a meeting between the newly-elected president and the National Defense Council over the security situation in Sinai and the procedures needed to improve the central security department.

The reshuffle also saw the appointment of Maged Nouh as assistant minister for central security and Osama al-Saghir as assistant minister for the Cairo security department, the paper says.

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-Watan: 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

Al-Nour: Official paper of the Salafi Nour Party

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