The difference in focus between government and independent dailies today demonstrates the usual wide rift between what each see as the most important news to define the country over the past day.
Independent papers pay a lot more attention to demonstrations expected to take place today on the occasion of Egypt’s 25 January Police Holiday.
Independent Al-Shorouq covers the demonstrations most prominently, headlining with the name activists chose for the protests: “The Day of Anger.” Security forces are reportedly preparing for the day by releasing 3000 soldiers onto the streets as well as 1000 undercover policemen to roam. Many parts of the city will be on lockdown, as the government hopes to do all it can to quell any possible uprising.
Al-Shorouq also announces that opposition groups the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wafd Party have decided at the last minute last night to participate in the demonstrations today. Both groups have reportedly been threatened with imprisonment and detention in the case of participation. According to Al-Shorouq, the Muslim Brotherhood released a statement saying, “No sane person can imagine that this kind of threats and intimidations will scare us away.”
Al-Dostour mentions rifts between opposition parties regarding whether or not to participate, noting that while the Muslim Brotherhood and Wafd will be participating, the Tagamma Party and Salafist groups will not. Tagamma reportedly object to holding the demonstration on this day because they “appreciate the efforts of policemen that have lost their lives for the sake of their country…[it] celebrates the memory of 50 martyrs from Egypt’s loyal security forces.” The paper also notes that demonstrations of loyalty will be organized by NDP sycophants.
Al-Wafd paper does not mention officially on its front page whether or not the paper’s sponsor, the Wafd Party, will be joining in the demonstrations. The paper merely mentions that security will be on full alert in all governorates. Al-Wafd does however prominently report on labor demonstrations that went on yesterday for a myriad of reasons. The demonstrations, which included protests by government employees from a variety of public companies, protested the withholding of their bonuses, unequal treatment in employee pay scales, and random reshuffling of land and jobs leaving many in lower positions and others out of work.
Of the government papers, only Al-Akhbar mentions the demonstrations, with a concise message from the head of Cairo’s security forces, General Ismail al-Shaer: “We have warned those calling for ‘The Day of Anger’ about the necessity of getting a permit to demonstrate. Anyone who transgresses the law will be arrested.”
Through what is surely nothing other than pure coincidence, Al-Ahram have today been able to release details on how Egypt’s security forces solved the Alexandria bombings, news of which covers over half of the front page. Beleaguered Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, in a comprehensive interview with the paper, reveals the main suspect behind the bombing of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, Ahmed Lotfi–who al-Adly says is a member of Al-Qaeda affiliate, the Palestinian Army of Islam. Palestinian premier Mahmoud Abbas reportedly confirmed this in a meeting with President Hosni Mubarak.
All other papers, however, report that Attorney-General Abdel Maguid Mahmoud has released an order banning the release of any information on investigations behind the church bombing until further notice.
In a couple of lines at the end of Al-Ahram's front-page interview, al-Adly refers briefly to the demonstration today: “These are a bunch of kids who are not aware, they have no effect.” Using the same vague language that has made the Emergency Law so comprehensively brutal, al-Adly stresses that “security forces will not be lenient on anyone who threatens security.”
The Palestinian Authority (PA) features heavily in the papers today due to a report on documents leaked by the Al Jazeera news channel yesterday, which reportedly show that the PA offered Israel a large chunk of Jerusalem in an alleged peace deal.
Meanwhile, news of former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s alleged landing in Sharm el-Sheikh was refuted by President Hosni Mubarak in an interview with “Police Magazine.” Both state-papers report that Ben Ali’s plane only requested to pass through Egyptian air space.
Away from politics, Al-Dostour allege that 1600 cancerous fertilizers have been allowed into Egypt. A source from the Ministry of Agriculture says that continuing to import these fertilizers could cause a catastrophe and cost the country billions.
The paper also reports on new allegations from the District Attorney’s office that “Palm Hills,” a development company partially owned by Housing Minister Ahmed al-Maghraby, was created to help him and his partners silently steal government land.
Also concerning land sales, Al-Shorouq report that the government is beginning to auction off land in the Toshka area in Upper Egypt as well as implementing plans to develop areas in the north west of Egypt for agriculture.
In what maybe the saddest item in the news today, Al-Akhbar release an interesting statistic from Minister of Investment Rachid Mohamed Rachid: “Only 35 percent of Egypt’s workforce is productive… as opposed to China’s 80 percent.”
Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt
Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size
Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run
Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat
Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned
Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned
Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party
Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party
Youm7: Weekly, privately owned
Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned