- Middle East/North Africa
Both state-run and independent newspapers Sunday juxtaposed the celebrations and chaos that erupted in Cairo and Port Said respectively after the court ruling in the Port Said football case on their front pages.
State-run daily Al-Ahram boasted a bold red headline, labeling the violence that engulfed Port Said after the verdict the city’s “new massacre.”
Al-Ahram’s main story leads with the number of deaths and injuries in Port Said, describing the “enraged” residents’ attack on the Port Said prison, which led to clashes with Central Security Forces.
The main story wraps up the main events of the previous day, reporting on President Mohamed Morsy’s meeting with the National Defense Council, which is toying with the idea of declaring a state of emergency, the National Salvation Front’s statement and demands, and celebrations by Ultras Ahlawy and the Port Said victims’ families.
State-owned daily Al-Gomhurriya’s headline, however, reads “Retribution,” above a large picture of the ultras’ celebrations splashed across its first page, striking a disproportionate balance with another small picture of the violence in Port Said.
Al-Gomhurriya called Saturday’s trial “historic,” giving the details of the verdict the main focus before shifting the attention to the number of deaths and injuries in Port Said.
Other daily newspapers, such as state-owned Al-Akhbar and privately owned Al-Shorouk and Al-Tahrir, described Saturday’s events in Port Said as a “massacre” and a “war,” all agreeing that the violence started after angry residents attempted to break into the Port Said prison.
Al-Shorouk, however, subtly criticizes Morsy’s meeting with the National Defense Council, saying it failed to come up with any decisions to put an end to the ongoing bloodshed.
“The meeting only resulted in a statement that considers imposing a curfew and declaring a state of emergency, as well as calls for national dialogue,” its story read.
While state newspapers such as Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar and Al-Gomhuriya report that the Armed Forces were called in to intervene and maintain order, other independent newspapers such as Al-Tahrir and Al-Shorouk are not as welcoming of the military intervention, portraying it as an imposition of control.
Al-Gomhurriya reports that the armed forces sent medical planes to Port Said to transport critical cases for treatment in Cairo, adding that it is cooperating with police to maintain security and thwart any attempts to attack police stations other institutions.
Privately owned Al-Tahrir, however, says the state “bowed out,” allowing the Armed Forces to take charge in the canal cities.
“The Armed Forces isolates Port Said and occupies roads leading to Ismailia,” read one of its headlines.
Al-Tahrir suggests that Morsy is “suppressing” and isolating Port Said by blocking all forms of transportation to the city, rejecting the state’s justification of ensuring citizens’ safety.
The newspaper also claims that the Armed Forces are imposing martial law on Suez residents.
All newspapers cover celebrations by Ultras Ahlawy and the victims’ families extensively, seeing the verdict as retribution for the martyrs, with the exception of Al-Tahrir newspaper, which, in a small article, explores whether the verdict was politically motivated to appease the ultras.
Privately owned Al-Dostour boasts a dramatic headline that reads, “The Muslim Brotherhood is burning Egypt.”
The newspaper suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood is sending a clear message to Egyptians, which warns them that protests come hand in hand with killing.
It also accuses the Muslim Brotherhood of using Central Security Forces as militias to kill and injure protesters.
In an article on its third page, Al-Dostour quotes sources on an allegedly “angry phone call” between Minister of Defense General Abdel Fatah Said al-Sisi and Morsy, during which Sisi urged the president to find solutions and put an end to the crisis rather than traveling to Addis Ababa, where he was scheduled to attend the African summit.
Sisi allegedly said that while the Armed Forces are staying away from politics, they will not steer clear of the current events and are on alert for anyone seeking Egypt’s destruction.
For its part, the infamous Freedom and Justice Party’s newspaper main headline reads “Court Rules: Death Sentence,” tackily illustrating a noose hanging off the last letter.
The newspaper’s headlines condemn the violence and called respecting the court’s rulings, pointing fingers at “elements who incite chaos.”
An interesting small article buried in its sixth page reports that the fact-finding committee that was formed in 2011 by Parliament to investigate the Port Said football violence says that some rulings may have favored a few Interior Ministry officials. The committee’s report, the newspaper says, proved the violence that occurred on 1 February of last year wasn’t intentional, but was a result of negligence.
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