Wednesday’s papers: Yacoub receives Greatest Nile Collar, Egypt recalls its envoy to the Vatican

Today the main headlines on the front pages of state-owned papers are dedicated to news that renowned cardiac surgeon Magdi Yacoub has been awarded the highest national honor in recognition of his great humanitarian contributions to medicine.

Al-Akhbar leads with a headline reading: “President presents Magdi Yacoub with the Greatest Nile Collar.” 

During the presentation ceremony, which took place at the presidential palace, President Hosni Mubarak called on the public and private sectors to support Yacoub’s humanitarian efforts.

The paper also reports that the Egyptian president stated he was looking forward to the inauguration of the Aswan center for heart disease studies, which will work in cooperation with Yacoub’s surgical institute.

Reporting on the same story, Al-Ahram quotes Yacoub in a headline as saying: “Aswan Center for Cardiology is an international edifice for treatment and research.”  Yacoub expressed his profound gratitude for the award, which, according to the paper, was given to him by both Mubarak and the Egyptian people.   

The ceremony was attended by First Lady Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, several ministers, the speakers of the People’s Assembly and the Shura Council, as well as important media and political figures.

On a different front, Al-Gomhorriya, another state-owned paper, reports that on Tuesday Egypt recalled its envoy to the Vatican in a protest against Catholic Pope Benedict XVI’s recent statements.

On Monday, the pope called on world leaders to ensure the safety of Coptic Christians in the aftermath of the Alexandria church bombing on New Year’s Eve which claimed the lives of 23 people.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said he considered the pope’s calls to be unacceptable interference in Egypt’s internal affairs, according to Al-Gomhorriya.

In a related context, Al-Dostour, a privately owned paper, features a report on the launch of an anti-sectarian campaign by the well-known Muslim preacher Amr Khaled.

Khaled, in an interview with Al-Dostour, said he wishes to cleanse the internet of sectarian campaigns through an electronic initiative named “An internet free of sectarian strife,” which he has launched in the wake of the Alexandria church blast.

The initiative aims to combat the extremism which Khaled says Al-Qaeda is trying to instill to destroy national unity between Muslims and Copts, the paper reports. In addition, Khaled believes that the internet plays a major role in spreading sectarian ideas.

As its lead story, independent Al-Shorouk draws attention to the detention of persons charged with provoking riots and setting al-Warraq police station in Cairo on fire.

According to the independent daily, three police officers were injured during their attempt to extinguish the fire that swept through the station yesterday.

The report adds that clashes broke out between security forces and prisoners' families, who mistakenly believed that the prisoners were caught in the blaze. Giza’s security chief Osama al-Marasy contained the situation by permitting the families to enter the police station to check on the prisoners' safety. 

Back to the parliamentary elections, opposition paper Al-Wafd's front-page headline today reads: “Egyptians lose hope of change through ballot boxes.”

The paper covers a news piece from Reuters which reported that the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has accused Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) of violations during the last electoral process. The High Elections Commission failed to execute its duties in conducting transparent elections, the report says.

The paper also writes that the NDP won a sweeping parliamentary majority as a result of violence, bribery, and vote-rigging on a large scale.

On the other hand, it points out the weak points of opposition parties, including internal divisions and personal conflicts.  

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-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

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