Egypt Independent

Monday’s papers: Copts celebrate Christmas as the Brotherhood seizes Cabinet

The main news items in Monday’s papers include: Coptic Christmas celebrations, controversies surrounding new ministers in the recently reshuffled cabinet, and plans for a strike by members of the public prosecution who are demanding the resignation of Talaat Abdallah, the current prosecutor general appointed by President Mohamed Morsy in late November.

Topping the news is the new cabinet shuffle, which ushered in 10 new ministers on Sunday. “Morsy meets with new government after pledging oath” reads a headline in the privately owned Youm7 Newspaper.

Youm7 mentions that the new cabinet includes four members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which now controls the Ministries of Finance, Local Development, Health, and Electricity. The paper claims that there are now a total of 10 Brotherhood ministers out of 34 ministerial portfolios. Other media sources claim that the Brotherhood currently controls eight ministries.

In the Muslim Brotherhood’s mouthpiece, the Freedom and Justice Newspaper, a headline reads “Qandil: The president called on the ministers to help ease the suffering of citizens.” The paper also runs a headlining saying, “New ministers: Our priority is the interest of the civilian, and to push forth the gears of the economy.” The paper makes no mention of the pending austerity measures, tax hikes and subsidy cuts which will reportedly need to be enforced as a pre-condition for the IMF loans.

In the independent Al-Tahrir Newspaper: “Brotherhood seizes Qandil Government through (Khaiyrat) al-Shater’s ministers” in reference to the chief financier and deputy guide of the Islamist group, whom the paper claims has handpicked candidates for the jobs. Al-Tahrir mentions that the new ministers of supply and social affairs, transport, finance, and local development were all chosen due to their loyalties to the president and the Brotherhood.

The liberal opposition Wafd Party’s paper Al-Wafd reports, “Qandil’s new government will be short lived as it will be burdened with chronically problematic duties.” Like Al-Tahrir, Al-Wafd adds that the ministries of supply and social affairs, finance, and electricity were selected because of their Brotherhood allegiances.

The privately owned Al-Dostour Newspaper, which follows an anti-Brotherhood stance, mentions: “Removal of (former) minister of interior due to his refusal to follow Brotherhood dictates.”

Meanwhile, Al-Watan reports that residents of Suez City, and especially “the families of martyrs,” have denounced the appointment of former Police General Mohamed Ibrahim to the post of Interior Minister. Residents, revolutionaries and the injured and families of those killed during the uprising of January-February 2011 describe Ibrahim’s appointment as being “a catastrophe” as this general –– who hails from Suez –– was reportedly involving in the killings of protesters and attempted crackdowns against the 25 January revolution.

In other news, Al-Watan reports that members of the Public Prosecution will embark on a strike this week in attempt to dislodge the new Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah, who was controversially appointed by the president in late November following his sacking of the Mubarak-era prosecutor general, Abdel Meguid Mahmoud.

Al-Watan mentions that “prosecution offices will be closed for three days to demand the resignation of Talaat Abdallah … and revolutionary forces will surround and protect Supreme Constitutional Court during its verdict on the Shura Council” on 15 January –– in which the court will rule if the council was elected through an unconstitutional process, as was the case of the People’s Assembly, which was dissolved last year through this court’s verdict.

The article mentions that the Judges’ Club and prosecutors agreed to protest and organize their forces against the appointment of Abdallah. The article also mentions that Egypt’s judges had returned to work –– following nationwide strikes in November and December –– only after receiving reassurances that Abdallah would be removed from his office. Yet the prosecutor remains in his post.

Al-Tahrir also mentions “Increasing number of signatures being collected to demand removal of Public Prosecutor … Court of Cassation to hear case against his appointment tomorrow.”

In other news coverage, nearly all Egyptian dailies feature news and articles about Coptic Christmas Celebrations today. According to Al-Watan: “5,000 Coptic Christians attended Christmas Eve Mass in the Abbasseya Cathedral” on Sunday, which was presided over by the new Coptic Pope, Tawadros II. The new pope is quoted as saying that he prayed for peace and stability in Egypt and that he “welcomes dialogue with the Brotherhood.”

According to the Freedom and Justice Paper, “President Morsy (who could not attend the Christmas Eve mass) dispatched presidential secretary Mohamed al-Tahtawi to represent him.” In another article in the same paper, Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood’s “Supreme Guide greets church leaders.” According to this article Badei’ sent congratulatory message to Pope Tawadros II and Safwat al-Bayadi, head of the Evangelical Church in Egypt.

Youm7 documents the alleged “Flight into Egypt” by Jesus and the “Holy Family” and details the places where they reportedly travelled and rested throughout the country. Al-Tahrir runs features entitled “Coptic Egypt” which details the lives and accomplishments of 19 prominent Copts –– including political activists, scientists, actors, comedians, politicians, writers, a footballer and an internationally renowned heart surgeon.

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