- Middle East/North Africa
There are blasts from the past in today’s papers, as political and public figures that seemed to carry so much weight circa 2011 return to grace the front pages a year later, for varying reasons.
Keeping with more time-relevant information, Al-Tahrir newspaper sports a headline that includes Mohamed ElBaradei and Hamdeen Sabbahi alongside familiar names from 2011 such as Wael Ghonim. The story is that all these and other public figures are calling for a boycott of the Constituent Assembly that is drafting (still) Egypt’s new constitution.
Moving off the front page, under the banner of a new movement called the Egyptian National Coalition, a statement was released on behalf of all the aforementioned to boycott the assembly and refuse completely its draft document. The reason for this call to boycott is a belief that the draft contravenes Egyptian identity as well as the international treaties to which Egypt is signatory. How much headway they expect to make with this statement is yet to be determined, but reality dictates that these vaunted public figures carry much less sway than they did a year ago, hence plastering this on the front page would have been more suitable then rather than now.
On a rather different note, everyone’s new favorite newspaper, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice (this reporter’s newspaper vendor says it outsells all other papers and that customers now suspect he’s hiding it because it’s always unavailable) puts a picture of none other than Ahmed Shafiq on its front page, the last person one would expect to see.
The reason why the almost-president-of-Egypt is there is because Brotherhood member Hassan Malek is spilling the beans on a meeting he had with Shafiq before the nominations for the presidential election began. And what a story it is.
According to Malek, Shafiq called him and asked for a meeting in July 2011 (that year again), which happened at the house of a “mutual friend.” During the meeting Shafiq asked Malek for the Brotherhood to back his candidacy for the presidency. He also requested a meeting with Mohamed Morsy and Saad al-Katatny to ask them their opinion on his candidacy because “if they don’t agree then I won't do it.” Malek then purportedly told him that it wouldn’t be a good idea because his connection with Hosni Mubarak had “burned him.” Malek then informed the other Brotherhood members of Shafiq’s wish to meet them and they refused.
And it doesn’t end there. Shafiq apparently wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept calling Malek, at one point urging him to arrange a surprise meeting at his house, before chiding Malek by saying, “Are you stingy or what?” Malek then met him again to convey the Brotherhood’s polite refusal to meet him. Politics and gossip can sometimes be one and the same.
Onto other papers and more pertinent news, Al-Shorouk leads with the story that the military is asking Rafah residents to help protect Coptic Christians in the area. Nine Coptic families in the area recently fled their homes under threat of attacks by militants. The military is responding with an initiative entitled “The Muslim protecting his Coptic Brother,” hoping to enroll the help of local residents in this issue.
Prime Minister Hesham Qandil paid a visit to Sinai, but not because Christian residents are fleeing for their lives. Rather, it was to meet tribal elders and also hold a meet and greet for Egyptian investors in the resort area of Taba in South Sinai, far from Rafah and it’s troubles in the North. Qandil was bullish about the future of South Sinai (they are two separate governorates) and estimated that the tourism industry would once again boom in Egypt, saying that the government is aiming to bring 11.5 million tourists into Egypt this year and 14 million next year. News that will surely assuage those in the North.
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
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