Wednesday’s papers: Port Said ‘bribe’ and the Brotherhood-Salafi battle

The news of an ongoing civil disobedience campaign organized by protesting Port Said residents, as well as the exchange of accusations between the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis, dominate headlines Wednesday.

After denying the power of the strikes and demonstrations organized in Port Said in response to the recent killing of protesters, the mouthpiece of the ruling Freedom and Justice Party hails the president's decision to re-establish the Port Said Free Zone.

Observers say President Mohamed Morsy's decision is a bid to appease angry residents. Freedom and Justice newspaper reports that president plans to present a draft law to the Shura Council that would allow LE400 million in Suez Canal revenue to be allocated among the three Canal governorates.

State-owned Al-Ahram reports on the story without referring to unrest in Port Said or the January clashes in the other canal zone cities of Ismailia and Suez. The newspaper reports that the move is similar to other plans to develop Sinai, Matrouh and Upper Egypt, as well as the area near the border with Sudan.

But opposition newspapers have a different take: privately-owned Al-Tahrir claims the coastal city is “out of the Brotherhood’s control” as thousands of residents protest demanding the government step down. The newspaper quotes Port Said residents as describing Morsy's decision as a “political bribe” and "cheap concessions" to avoid real justice for those killed.

Another privately owned paper, Al-Watan alleges in its top story that the Shura Council is threatening to punish the governorates. It quotes sources inside the Brotherhood-dominated upper house of Parliament as saying some of its members are calling for legislation to respond to acts of civil disobedience. MP Muslim Ayyad is reported as saying that the Penal Code should be revisited to include criminal penalties for such acts.

Tensions also continue to roil between the Brotherhood and the Salafi-oriented Nour Party following a party official's dismissal from the government Sunday. Some Salafi groups see President Mohamed Morsy's decision to sack his advisor for environmental affairs, Khaled Alam Eddin, on suspicion of corruption as politically motivated.

Privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper claims the presidency is "besieging Al-Nour" after it issued a statement reiterating its accusations against Alam Eddin and defending his removal. Nour official Sherif Taha is quoted as alleging the advisor was fired for trying to bring documents to light regarding Brotherhood efforts to dominate state institutions.  

Unnamed Brotherhood sources tell the paper the move was actually a reaction to the Salafi reluctance to help the Brotherhood during violent clashes between Morsy supporters and anti-government protesters outside the presidential palace in November.

Al-Watan quotes the head of Nour Party in Alexandria, Tarek Fahim, as saying unity between the Brotherhood and his party is now "impossible."

Independent paper Youm7 reports that the Sharia Organization of Rights and Reform, a religious organization including Salafi and Brotherhood leaders and sheikhs, held a meeting to resolve the dispute. Members of the organizations involved reportedly called for a unified effort by Islamic organizations to end the row in a way that satisfies all parties. They also want the president to disclose details and evidence of the accusations against Alam Eddin.

In a special report, Al-Watan also purports to give a behind-the-scenes look at an ongoing battle between the president and the military following rumors that Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is next on the chopping block.

Half an hour after the rumor circulated Sunday, leaders within the military council received reports of mounting anger among Armed Forces circles, Al-Watan says. In response, the council tried to identify the source of the alleged news and reportedly found that it came from one of the political forces trying to pressure Morsy to sack certain military leaders.

The newspaper reports that military leaders leaked angry statements to the media, which prompted the president to refute the rumors and personally call Sisi to apologize.

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

Al-Sabah: 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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