- Middle East/North Africa
After extensive coverage on conflicting reports of casualties during the past three days, Monday’s independent papers focus on the anger and sharp disappointment that gripped the country due to the deadly Assiut bus-train collision.
On Saturday, a speeding train crashed into a school bus in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Assiut, leaving about 50 children dead and dozens injured.
The latest in a series of rail accidents seems to ring the alarm bell over the lackluster performance of President Mohamed Morsy and his Cabinet. While independent daily Al-Tahrir’s headline screams: “Assiut explodes anger against Morsy and his government,” privately owned Al-Watan runs: “Anger in the street ... and confusion in the authority.”
In a two-page spread, Al-Tahrir recounts heartbreaking stories as recalled by the victims’ parents. The paper, however, puts a special emphasis on the two most tragic stories of loss.
Hamad Abu Rashid tells of the last moments he spent with his five children, all of whom lost their lives in the train collision, while Ashraf Hesham, the father of three victims, suffered acute psychological collapse at the accident scene, the report says.
In another feature, the paper paints a gloomy picture of morning queues at schools overwhelmed with “grief, tears, black flags and a moment of silence,” in mourning of those who died in the crash.
Al-Watan leads with a story on the chief prosecutor’s investigations into the accident. Railway workers, including the train conductor and his assistant, have been jailed pending investigation, the paper states.
Additionally, the paper reports that attorney Ramadan al-Aqsary has filed a lawsuit against Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, former Transportation Minister Rashad al-Matiny, and former head of the Egyptian National Railway Authority Mostafa Qinawy, demanding they be to a criminal court for negligence. In the aftermath of Assiut train crash, Matiny submitted his resignation and Qinawy was dismissed from office.
Since ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s old regime, Egypt has been trapped into an endless cycle of negligence that grows with the government’s indifference to the consecutive railway catastrophic accidents.
Yet the same scenario of officials’ resignation following train collisions has been repeated time and again in recent years without taking into account a drastic solution that ensures the safety of passengers and improving the country’s transportation sector.
Predictably, the anger on Egypt’s streets was handled differently by state-owned Al-Ahram, which has recently been returning to its same biased editorial approach. The paper runs an eyebrow raising statement that puts all the blame of the train crash on the old regime’s shoulders. “Popular and political forces pointed fingers at 30 years of negligence and corruption,” Al-Ahram states. None of the “political forces” referred to, however, are actually named in the story.
The report points out the efforts of Shura Council, which has sent a committee to the accident scene in Assiut to investigate the causes behind the accident.
State-run Al-Gomhorriya features exclusive news stating that the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, has asked Morsy to dissolve Qandil’s Cabinet and assign Khairat al-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy supreme guide, to form a new Cabinet, allegedly to confront the deteriorating economic conditions.
A Cabinet reshuffle is reportedly still under consideration by Morsy. The paper cites an anonymous source as saying that the president would determine within the next few hours whether or not to give Qandil’s Cabinet one more chance until the upcoming parliamentary elections. Shater’s nomination would assure the FJP’s ongoing, overt attempts to tighten its grip on the political sphere through tactical maneuvers.
Nearly every daily paper publishes a picture of the elaborate enthronement ceremony of the new pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The 60-year-old pope was selected on 4 November after Pope Shenouda III passed away in March.
In a short story, independent daily Al-Dostour states that Pope Tawadros II offered his condolences to the families of the train accident’s victims as well as to the victims in Gaza.
In the beginning of his speech, the new offered thanks to Morsy, despite his absence. His move was harshly criticized by some Copts.
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