Thursday’s papers: I do solemnly swear

President-elect Mohamed Morsy continues to dominate Egypt’s front pages with his every utterance and step, causing fevered speculation regarding each word’s meaning for the grand scheme of the new Egypt.

The current contrived crisis is the presidential oath, which Morsy is due to take on Saturday morning. Morsy wants to take the oath before Parliament, as the constitution dictates. Seeing as Parliament has been dissolved, the new supplement to the Constitutional Declaration issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces stipulates that Morsy swears in to the Supreme Constitutional Court (the body that nullified Parliament). Morsy had been reticent to do so because he doesn’t want to recognize the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood-majority Parliament.

State-run Al-Ahram handles this impasse in its typical manner of writing a lot without giving much away, reporting that the time and place of the presidential oath will be announced today, before President-elect Morsy directs his attentions to the country’s traffic concerns. 

Independent paper Al-Shorouk’s take is slightly different, implying that just hours before Morsy is due to take the oath, he himself is not clear on the details of where and when it will take place. The newspaper reports that because of this, the Brotherhood remains in Tahrir Square to support Morsy’s claim for more presidential authorities from the SCAF, whose response has been that it won’t back down on the issue.

Al-Shorouk also reports on clashes that occurred in Tahrir Wednesday morning between a mix of protesters, vendors and thugs that caused injuries in the square. The independent Al-Watan newspaper reports on the story slightly differently, saying that a fight broke out between the vendors and the protesters tried to break it up. Both report that weapons were used during the clashes.

Al-Watan also talks about Morsy’s potential Cabinet, due to be announced on Monday at the latest. The newspaper reports that the Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood’s political arm, is gunning for 15 ministerial posts, including the Finance, Housing and Trade Ministries. The newspaper also reports that the Muslim Brotherhood admitted to negotiating with the SCAF over the Cabinet posts as well as the fate of the dissolved Parliament.

While most newspapers have accepted Morsy’s victory and are reporting on his actions as the president-elect, others are still loath to admit that a member of the Muslim Brotherhood has made it to the presidency. The newspaper that has most firmly refused to accept reality is the independent paper Al-Dostour, which is actually being sued by the FJP for its two-week marathon of headlines whipping up sensationalist stories about how the Brotherhood has been planning to overthrow the state with armed militias that would burn the country to the ground.

Even after the official announcement of Morsy’s victory and the FJP lawsuit, Al-Dostour remains defiant. Its front page functions as a headline generator independent of the news contained within the paper — often, the front page shock headlines are nowhere to be found inside. Today’s surprising headline was: “The bomb will come in 72 hours.”

And what, pray tell, is this bomb? It is that certain unnamed state authorities will offer conclusive proof to the public prosecutor that the election that brought Morsy to the presidential palace was fraudulent. It insists that the story of the Ameriya printing press is true (where apparently hundreds of thousands of ballots were printed, marked in Morsy’s favor, and somehow inserted into the ballot boxes at the poll station). Within the newspaper itself, not much of this ticking time bomb is to be seen, but space is given for voices that are critical of the Brotherhood.   

The Wafd Party’s paper Al-Wafd does not quite go to the lengths of Al-Dostour, but does lead its front page headline-fest with: “The plan to bring down Morsy.” However, thumbing through the paper reveals a less-dramatic story — a full-page spread covering the three questions that will define Morsy’s presidency. Under a photo-shopped image of Morsy bowling with SCAF head Hussein Tantawi, Al-Wafd asks: Will the Brotherhood turn on Morsy because he has to make decisions they won’t like? Will the SCAF overthrow Morsy? Will Morsy wrestle power from the SCAF?

It hasn’t just been Morsy in the news lately. His wife, Naglaa Ali — or Um Ahmed to some — has also been in the papers as speculation mounts over what kind of first lady she will be. Ali has come under rather harsh criticism from sections of the press for her veneer of religiosity, with some journalists speculating if she would even shake foreign dignitaries’ hands. Fahmi Huweidi attacks these types of comments vehemently in his column for Al-Shorouk today.

“This is the discourse of the Egyptian media which pretends to respect others, but we are surprised by the arrogant and condemning tone,” he writes, decrying these types of criticism for its “orientalist, pretentious tone that deals with its subject with overtones of disgust.”


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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