- Middle East/North Africa
Local newspapers Thursday devote much attention to the general strike and civil disobedience planned the one-year anniversary of former President Hosni Mubarak's resignation on Saturday. Many political and revolutionary forces have called for civil disobedience as a means to pressure the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to step down, triggering controversy over the past week as the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis and the Coptic Church oppose the plan.
Although most state-owned and private newspapers give coverage to both sides, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice newspaper clearly supports the opposition view.
“Wide rejection to 11 February strike,” reads a Freedom and Justice headline. The partisan newspaper reports that all of Egypt’s churches including the Coptic, Catholic and Evangelical sects, reject calls for a general strike and some describe it as “a crime against Egypt.” It also quotes workers at the Mahalla Textile Factory, the largest factory in Mahalla and the country's main producer of textiles, as saying they do not intend to participate.
“The strike kills tourism and US$18 billion gone with the wind,” reads the headline of another story in the same paper. “[Tourism employees] confirmed that calls for a general strike and civil disobedience at that particular time only serve the counter-revolution because they lead to the failure of the national economy and increase the burden on the average Egyptian,” the paper reports. A third story talks about the security threat that may result from the protests.
Privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper reports that 14 universities have declared their intention to participate in the strike, in addition to a number of labor unions, political parties and revolutionary groups, while Islamist groups will boycott the effort. Most professional syndicates have declined calls for the strike, with the Engineers Syndicate imploring members not to participate and even calling on them to work for an extra hour for free on that day, reports Al-Shorouk.
The liberal Wafd Party has announced the continuation of a sit-in in Tahrir Square in order to fulfill revolutionary demands and “purge all state institutions," the paper also writes.
Similarly, state-run Al-Ahram reports on the divide between different political and social groups, saying that 36 revolutionary movements have agreed to join the general strike next Saturday, leading up to a state of full civil disobedience on 13 February if the strike is successful.
Al-Ahram’s front page leads with news that military forces will be deployed over the next few days to enforce security on the streets.
“The armed forces have been re-deployed in many governorates in order to secure public and private properties and main roads, as well as to catch criminals with the aim of protecting society and retaining the state’s prestige,” reports the state's flagship paper.
As for the forensic reports for protesters killed in the latest violence around the Interior Ministry, there are discrepancies in the media reports. Freedom and Justice quotes Ashraf Refaei, assistant chief medical examiner at the Zeinhom Morgue, saying that nine out of the 11 bodies in the morgue were killed with birdshot and two with single bullets. However, Al-Ahram reports that all 11 were killed with birdshot. A third story in privately owned Al-Tahrir newspaper says 10 were injured with birdshot while the last protester’s cause of death remained unclear as no bullet was found in his body.
The Revolution Eye Doctors Association released a statement Wednesday claiming that 50 protesters have lost their eyes to birdshot between 2 and 5 February, reports Al-Shorouk.
As for the results of the first phase of Shura Council elections, the Freedom and Justice Party secured the most seats with 44, followed by the Salafi Nour Party list with 17, the Wafd Party list with eight, the Egyptian Bloc list with five and independent candidates with four, according to Freedom and Justice.
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
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