Thursday’s Papers: SCAF and WWE on the same page isn’t so odd

Deputy head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) Sami Anan met with high-level clergymen from the Coptic Church yesterday to discuss the latest developments in sectarian strife.

Violence at Maspero that left at least 28 dead, as well as the murky laws – and resulting confusion – regarding licenses for the construction of churches, were central to the conversation. 

Even though most papers decide to headline with the meeting, they do not contain anything out of the ordinary. State-run Al-Akhbar reports that Anan affirmed the SCAF’s desire to “uphold a civil state based on equality between all of its citizens.”

The Coptic Church also agreed to support a unified draft law regulating building places of worship. Al-Azhar rejected the draft, since it prefers separate rules for church and mosque building, reports independent Al-Shorouk.

According to state-run Al-Ahram, Anan promised to prosecute those responsible for the clashes. He toed the usual SCAF tone of steering clear from admitting any culpability for the violence. Anyone who watched last night’s interview with SCAF generals Mahmoud Hegazy and Mohamed al-Assar probably knows by now that to be in SCAF, you must be immune from the disease of ever having to admit to any wrongdoing. Any negative incident involving them or insinuating any military culpability is as the party-run Al-Wafd party paper calls it today, “a plan to destroy the nation.”

Speaking of the Wafd Party, their paper reads more like “Wafd’s Guide to the Elections” lately, as much of it seems geared toward serving their party’s goals in an all-too-overt way.  In a Q&A with Jama’a al-Islamiya’s Construction and Development Party head Tarek al-Zomor, Wafd tries to wash its hands clean of the failure of the Democratic Alliance. The now Wafd-less electoral bloc had contained most prominently the Wafd Party and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. 

In another article in Al-Wafd, the writer blames Brotherhood leaders for Wafd’s withdrawal from the party, as well as Wafd’s decision to go into the parliamentary elections on its own.

Independent Al-Tahrir claims that Wafd’s candidate lists include many former members of the National Democratic Party (NDP). This has been a contentious issue for the past few weeks, and one that has reportedly caused much internal strife in one of Egypt’s oldest established political players.

With about as much subtlety as it can muster, Al-Wafd audaciously litters its pages with at least four big stories about NDP candidates running for office. One article talks about the “forbidden deal between mayors and NDP remnants to take over the parliament.” Al-Shorouk reports that the eighth day of submitting papers for parliamentary candidacy “saw an eye-catching presence of former NDP members” running on Wafd’s ticket.

Former Wafd Vice President Bahaa Abu Shakka writes in the party’s paper about the apparent dangers in implementing the proposed Treachery Law, which would ban former NDP members from running in the upcoming elections. Below that is an article about how the proposed law will cause the annulment of the coming parliament. This of course makes sense for the Wafd Pary to allege, since many of their candidates would likely be included in this political isolation.  Al-Shorouk says that either way, according to its legal source, this law will not be issued until the end of November at the earliest, meaning after the first round of parliamentary elections.

Wafd has denied rumors that it includes NDP remnants and is blaming the rumors on those it kicked off its electoral list, reports Al-Ahram. 

Politician Gameela Ismail makes election headlines by also pulling out of the Democratic Alliance. Al-Tahrir and Al-Shorouk say she is protesting the Brotherhood’s decision to keep women from leading electoral lists, contrary to what they reportedly promised her upon joining the alliance. She will now run as an independent.

The Justice Ministry is considering a proposed law to offer more protection, freedom and independence to state coroners and forensics employees, reports Al-Shorouk. Over the past few years, coroners have been the subject of many battles involving corruption and incomplete autopsy reports, most famously with the Khaled Saeed case. Many of the families of those killed at Maspero last week refused to send the bodies of their dead relatives to state autopsy centers as a result. This law, according to Al-Shorouk, will ensure the independence of official coroners.

According to Al-Tahrir, many court sessions have been adjourned in recent days due to a standoff between lawyers and judges. Lawyers in many governorates are objecting to the discontinuation of a law that bars judges from taking punitive measures against lawyers who obstruct trials. Judges have responded by adjourning some trial sessions. Members of the Supreme Judicial Council have called on lawyers to submit written proposals to amend the law, Al-Ahram says. 

In case anyone is wondering why there is a photo of two half-naked men lying on top of each other on the front page of Al-Tahrir, it’s because Ibrahim Eissa’s paper has decided to include a complementary supplement of news from the WWE American wrestling association (or is it WWF, WC, or WWC?). John Cena is fighting for a place in the history books, apparently.   The wrestling supplement contains cutting-edge journalism about the hazards these pro fighters face, even though they are on steroids. In Al-Tahrir you can read breaking news on how Chris Benoit went crazy, killing his wife and son, then hanging himself – though it happened four years ago. And apparently The Big Show – who as far as anyone can tell is either a wrestler or a member of a traveling circus – is back! 

Yes, Al-Tahrir actually pays someone to write, in a serious tone, about American professional fake sports entertainment. It is a truly astonishing moment in journalism history.

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

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

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