Monday’s papers: Egypt mourns Shenouda’s death, election antics continue

Monday’s papers: Egypt mourns Shenouda’s death, election antics continue


Mon, 19/03/2012 - 12:50

The death of Pope Shenouda III dominates the front pages of all the newspapers today, a day after the first day of his body’s viewing at the Abbasseya Cathedral. The pope died on Saturday night, after press time for most newspapers, and so many are printing their first Shenouda-related post-mortem stories.

State-run Al-Akhbar says that the line to view Shenouda’s embalmed body is 3 km long around the cathedral. Independent Al-Shorouk says that the three-day viewing will alter the course of traffic in Abbasseya, a crowded downtown neighborhood and juncture, as long as Shenouda’s body is still on display.

Al-Wafd party paper says that many of the mourners went to the cathedral on foot as a pilgrimage of sorts. Al-Wafd provided the most comprehensive coverage, posting a 10-page spread about the pope’s death and life and what is to come for the Coptic Orthodox Church. They indicate that the coming days will see an entire shift in the structures of authority in the upper echelons of the Coptic Church.

In the Muslim Brotherhood’s party paper, Freedom and Justice, the most important item of news was the fact that the Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and FJP head Mohamed Morsy made the trip to pay their condolences. Their story is largely devoid of any emotion, reading instead like a dry article about a local authority paying respects to a foreign ambassador.

The nominations for the 118th pope will start this coming Friday. Tuesday will be the last day of viewing before he is buried at the Bishoy Monastery in the Wadi Natrun area, Egypt flagship paper Al-Ahram says.

In other news, 21 professional syndicates and associations are nominating names to represent them in the constituent assembly, which will write the constitution, according to Freedom and Justice. Parliament voted to split the constituent assembly between members of Parliament and external figures who will be elected by Parliament. MPs are also putting their names forward, including one perennial sycophant, Mostafa Bakry.

A group of lawyers and legal activists, however, are appealing Parliament’s decision to split the constituent assembly, saying it contradicts Article 60 of the Constitutional Declaration, Al-Ahram says.

 Legal scholar Mohamed Nour Farahat says Article 60, which states that Parliament will vote on the constituent assembly members, insinuates equal opportunity for anyone wishing to be nominated for the assembly. Cordoning off 50 percent of the seats for the MPs means unconstitutionally monopolizing that number of seats, Al-Ahram quoted Farahat as saying.

Political parties are also handing in their nominations for MPs they would like to represent them in the constituent assembly. The number of seats each party gets will likely correspond to their representation in the People’s Assembly, Al-Shorouk says.

Also, Parliament’s legislative committee took the first step toward kicking out former Nour Party MP Anwar al-Balkimy by lifting his diplomatic immunity, Al-Wafd says.

In a series of events not vastly different from a daytime TV drama, Balkimy lied about having undergone a nose job, instead claiming to have been beaten up and robbed at gunpoint.

According to Al-Shorouk, Balkimy has admitted he lied and is now awaiting dismissal from Parliament as a result. However, Al-Akhbar reports that Balkimy he requested having his diplomatic immunity lifted so that he can speak with freedom about the case.

This means Balkimy could be about to reveal some truths that would explain why he lied about the nose job. A deviated septum, perhaps?

Presidential nominations are still happening, which means newspapers are still competing on finding the funniest-looking presidential hopeful to photograph and display.

Al-Akhbar is the clear winner today with a photo of the mop-headed horologist wearing a too-small vest under a too-large blazer, with a caption saying, “Please patronize me.”

Al-Wafd gets an honorable mention with the “oh so serious” peace sign waving lawyer.

Otherwise, on the campaign trail, allegations of fraud are already cropping up.

According to Al-Shorouk, two workers from the notary public’s office are under investigation for forging signatures of some candidates. Independent candidates need 30,000 of these to be officially nominated. Al-Akhbar broke news that workers in many Hurghada tourist resorts were forced to sign agencies for Ahmed Shafiq, who is widely seen as the closest thing to Mubarak running.

The Muslim Brothers have rejected a proposal to nominate their second-in-command, Khairat al-Shater, for president, according to Al-Shorouk. Freedom and Justice says that the Brotherhood youth are fully committed to whoever the Guidance Bureau decides on as a presidential candidate.

Foot-and-mouth disease afflicting livestock is still a problem. Al-Akhbar says that demand for meat has decreased by 75 percent lately. Fish, chicken and dairy prices are likely to skyrocket, according to Al-Wafd. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri promised to compensate livestock owners for their loss, Al-Ahram says.

Ganzouri is also in the process of trying to tie down some funding from the International Monetary Fund, in a replay of a scene that has played out several times this year. Planning and International Cooperation Minister Fayza Abouelnaga — one of the parties responsible for bringing NGO workers to trial on charges receiving illegal foreign funding — is part of the negotiations. According to Al-Akhbar, she said that a deal has been reached again, with the IMF supporting the Egyptian budget.

But Al-Shorouk quotes the IMF as saying a deal has not been reached, and it depends on political groups agreeing the plan.

The generic version of Viagra is down to LE10 from LE27, according to both Al-Shorouq and Al-Ahram on their front pages. The Health Ministry agreed to the new price based on a request from the pharmaceutical company that produces the drug. Al-Ahram coupled it with a public service announcement, calling the notion that drugs can increase your libido a “Roman myth.”

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-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