Egypt Independent

Wednesday’s papers: ‘Yes’ vs. ‘No’

Scenes of streets full of protesters supporting or denouncing President Mohamed Morsy's decisions have become the daily routine over the past 10 days and Wednesday's papers continue to cover the unrest.

State-owned Al-Ahram's front page shows two photos of different protests highlighting the “show of force” between the two sides ahead of Saturday's referendum on the constitution. Islamist forces are campaigning for a “yes” vote, while opposition forces are divided; some want to go to the polls to vote against the contentious charter, while others are pushing for a boycott.

The state's flagship paper refers Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's invitation for a power lunch with Morsy, opposition figures and members of the Freedom and Justice Party. The paper decribes the meeting as a call for national solidarity.

Al-Ahram quotes Assistant Minister of Defense Mohamed al-Assar as saying that the meeting will take place in the context of “the united Egyptian family,” and insisting it is not intended as a political dialogue. He also dismisses the possibility the military is intervening in politics.

State-owned Al-Akhbar employs a more dramatic headline, asking people to “have mercy on Egypt,” while reporting on clashes between protesters and unknown assailants in Tahrir Square and violence at presidential palace demonstrations. The paper runs a photo showing security forces using barricades to prevent protesters from reaching the palace, another of protesters jumping over the walls and a third of protesters preventing citizens from entering the Mugamma in Tahrir Square.

“The clock of the referendum is ticking,” writes party paper Freedom and Justice, adding that judges should decide today whether or not they will oversee voting. Despite multiple announcements from judges that they would not participate in protest against the constitutional declaration, Freedom and Justice predicts more than 15,000 judges will ultimately relent.

In its referendum coverage, the Brotherhood-affiliated newspaper describes a presidential decree that bans voting outside one’s electoral district of residence as “the latest guarantee of transparency.”

The paper reports on a campaign by the FJP to support the “yes” vote across the country, called “With the constitution, the wheel will run,” referring to promises of stability and economic development. According to the paper, Constituent Assembly members will tour the entire country to promote the campaign.

Independent daily Al-Shorouk describes a turbulent political scene with the slightly perplexing headline “A square is in front of a square, and Egypt is in between.” The front page displays a photo of protesters pushing against a barricade erected in front of the presidential palace accompanied by a story describing minor clashes between protesters.

Privately owned daily Al-Tahrir reports that revolutionaries are marching toward the presidential palace for the sake of the nation, while the Islamists are rallying for the sake of the president.

The paper also reports that Azbakeya Misdemeanor Court declined to investigate a case referred to it by newly-appointed Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah, deeming him illegitimate, in what Al-Tahrir describes as “a historic decision.”

The private newspaper Al-Watan describes the situation as “a revolution by the people in the face of the president’s clan.” The opposition is besieging the presidential palace with eight “revolutionary marches” as well as protests in 13 governorates, according to Al-Watan's coverage. Revolutionary forces are also coordinating with leaders in the labor movement to start a civil disobedience campaign, saying that it will be the only remaining card to play if Morsy doesn’t respond to the demands of the opposition.

The paper writes that the Brotherhood demonstrators have confined themselves to the area in front of Rabaa al-Adaweya Mosque and quotes one of the group's leaders as saying they will prevent any attempts to storm the palace.

Islamist writer Fahmy Howeidy addresses in his Al-Shorouk column “the questions of the confused,” shedding light on the president’s decision to raise taxes on many consumer goods, which he then quickly revoked. Howiedy says the decisions raise questions regarding the economy, including whether an IMF loan is the only available solution and what it will ultimately cost Egypt. He also asks if the government has bothered to study the experiences of other countries granted similar loans.

Howeidy also questions why most of the government policy decisions have been harsh on the poor and less harsh on the rich. Finally, the Islamist thinker asks if the same economic mentality that ruled the country before the 25 January revolution is still in place. Citing economic experts’ concerns, he warns that “if things continue this way, we do not need a counter-revolution to threaten our dreams, because some of us are already doing the job.”

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-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