- Middle East/North Africa
Topping the news in Monday’s papers are reports of civil disobedience campaigns spreading to cities beyond Port Said, alongside a new wave of strikes and industrial actions nationwide. Today’s papers also look to upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled to begin in April, including preparations for the polling and the positions of Egypt’s political parties regarding boycott or participation.
“Port Said spreads its civil disobedience to other governorates” reads the top headline in Al-Tahrir newspaper, while Al-Shorouk newspaper runs a header reading “Campaign of disobedience against Muslim Brotherhood … Cairo not participating.”
Both these private-owned papers describe how the campaign of civil disobedience, which began protesting against judicial verdicts and the Morsy regime over a week ago, has spread from the canal city of Port Said to the Nile Delta cities of Mahalla and Mansoura. The campaign spread to Giza Governorate, but did not quite make its way to Cairo.
Actions in Cairo included the forced closure of the government building in Tahrir square known as the Mugamma and sporadic attempts at shutting down the metro, apart from the ongoing closure of Tahrir Square to traffic (as has been the case since 22 November).
The top headline in the state-owned Al-Gomhurriya reads “return of closures of the Mugamma ... by force,” while one of state-owned Al-Akhbar’s main headlines reads “Closure of Tahrir’s Mugamma and Daqahliya Governorate Bureau.” Both papers denounce these closures by angry civilians, reporting that they obstruct people’s interests and unjustly interrupt official work.
Al-Watan reports that this campaign of civil disobedience in Port Said has developed and expanded in scope, with workers, students, shop-owners, transport employees, and even police officers joining in strikes and protest marches across the city. Civil disobedience is also reported to have spread to the cities of Mahalla and Mansoura, where it entails the blocking of highways and railways, along with strikes and calls for work stoppages, together with growing campaigns to stop paying utility bills.
Further actions were organized in Tanta and Alexandria on Sunday, and reports indicate that residents of North Sinai may join in the growing campaign as of Tuesday. “Civil disobedience spreads ... Brotherhood attempts to abort it” reads the headline in Al-Watan.
The main headline on the front page of the Muslim Brotherhood’s mouthpiece the Freedom and Justice newspaper declares, “The people reject civil disobedience.” The article claims that Port Said is being held hostage by “a group of no more than 150 thugs” who have forced the city to shut down its schools, shops, factories, highways, and ports.
Another headline mentions that, in light of port closures in the city, Port Said is incurring losses amounting to LE150 million each day, while “ships have been re-routed to Israel!!”
The Brotherhood’s mouthpiece indicates, however, that in Port Said “the crisis may soon be resolved.” The paper mentions that the Morsy administration will reintroduce free trade zones in the city, and will honor the civilians recently killed by security forces as “martyrs” — except those with criminal records.
State-run Al-Gomhurriya mentions that the “President will soon visit Port Said” to meet with its residents and resolve some of the city’s many problems.
Yet unrest has spilled far beyond this one city to a number of others; “Wide scale strikes across the governorates” reads an article headline in Al-Gomhurriya. The article mentions that numerous labor strikes and rallies were staged in the city of Ismailia, while electric utility maintenance workers went on strike in Suez city, taxi drivers went on strike outside the headquarters of the Daqahliya Governorate. It also lists farmers in Assiut who blocked railways in protest against the unavailability of fertilizers, the partial disruption of railway traffic by protesters in Mahalla, and clashes between police and protesting quarry workers in Kafr el-Sheikh.
“Egypt is out of control” reads the top headline in privately-owned Youm 7. Another article in the paper mentions that certain sectors of anti-Brotherhood protesters are planning a mass rally today in the Nasser City district of Cairo calling on the Armed Forces to reclaim the state from the Morsy regime, and take control of the government.
Meanwhile public provision bakeries warn that there will be a massive nationwide strike by bakers who bake subsidized bread in five days if the Ministry of Solidarity does not supply the required provisions. “Crisis of bakeries alights” reads Al-Akhbar, which mentions that public provision bakers are demanding an overdue one billion pounds — in light of increased diesel expenditures and unpaid bonuses. The paper reports that workers in brick factories are also protesting due to increased diesel costs and unsustainable production.
Privately-owned Al-Tahrir reports the bakers’ denouncements of the minister of solidarity’s “foot-dragging and threats,” and that a strike is imminent within a week.
Amidst this unrest, parliamentary elections are being organized for 22 April until 24 June. The Freedom and Justice paper reports that “50 local and four foreign organizations will monitor the elections, along with 90,000 vote monitors.”
In Al-Watan, “Opposition leans towards boycott of elections, while the [opposition umbrella grouping] National Salvation Front will announce its position tomorrow.” The paper reports that a number of parties and organizations have already announced that they will be boycotting the elections, including the Wafd Party, the Free Egyptians Party, Tagammu, the Popular Current, the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, the Egyptian Democratic Labor Congress and the National Association for Change.
It also lists those who are strongly considering boycott, including the Dostour Party, the Popular Socialist Alliance, the Democratic Front Party, the Reform and Development Party, the Free Egypt Party, the Karama Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Congress Party.
On elections, one of Al-Akhbar’s headline reads “Nour Party will partake in the elections ... National Salvation Front considers.”
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