The Ikhwan and Wacko Jacko

On Saturday, virtually all publications, independent and state-owned, devoted wide coverage to the death of the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson, with background stories about his life, reactions from the fans, causes of death, etc. The local press also continued to follow up on the death sentence handed down to Egyptian construction tycoon Hisham Talaat Mostafa (and his accomplice, former Sate Security officer Mohssen el-Sokari) for the murder of Lebanese singer Suzan Tamim. The leading three state-owned papers, Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar also continued reporting, with columnists debating whether there were “excesses” in the use of capital punishment and whether it should be abolished or not. The Iranian events, it was noticed, remained absent from the local press, let alone for brief reports, usually not on the front page.
Health news also featured strongly with Al-Gomhorriya for example devoting its front page to the discovery of two new cases in Sharm el-Sheikh of H1N1.
The independent press followed suit, with Ad-Dustour running different scenarios of how Hisham Talaat Mostafa could “escape the noose” via legal maneuvers. But the independent Ash-Shrouk devoted its front page coverage to follow up on the dissolution of the parliament and discussing the prospects of the new elections this fall.
The independent weekly Al-Osbou also focused on the dissolution of the parliament, and did not forget to mention the “noose awaiting the necks of Hisham Talaat Mostafa and his accomplice Mohssen el-Sokari. The weekly Al-Fagr had an exclusive interview with Mostafa’s mother after the verdict, while its editor in chief Adel Hammouda devoted his weekly editorial to “presidential succession scenarios” and whether Spy Chief Omar Suleiman was a contender. Hammouda’s theory included Suleiman accepting the vice presidency to guarantee Gamal Mubarak’s ascendance to power.
For the following three days, the state-owned publications were dominated by regional news from Mubarak’s visit to Saudi Arabia for talks with King Abdullah, to the Fatah-Hamas talks and Saad el-Harir’s attempts to form a government in Lebanon.
While Ash-Shrouk continued to focus on local issues like murder trials, with a follow up on the “Five women in the life of Hisham Talaat Mostafa.”
The crackdown on the Muslim Brothers’ senior activists forced itself as a story on both the state-owned and the independent press, together with updates on annual mass scare among students regarding the Thanaweya Amma exams.
Al-Ahram and the state-owned publications usually had scopes about the crackdowns, with information passed over by security sources, accusing the Muslim Brotherhood leaders of membership in the so-called “International Organization of the Muslim Brothers.”
In the Twittersphere, the Iran hype that was dominant in the previous week faded, and the interest of Tweeters varied from mourning or scorning the death of Michael Jackson, to following local industrial action news and crackdowns on Muslim Brothers leaders. So while Sandmonkey expressed his sorrow over MJ’s death by tweeting: “We are now officially old. Our Elvis has left the building! RIP Moonwalker,” Islamist blogger Ahmed Abdel Fattah was frustrated by “the Ikhwan’s inability to respond to Abul Fotouh’s arrest. They’d have done it for Khairat el-Shatter.”
Other tweeters were engaged in spreading news about labor strikes, especially the Tanta Flax and Oil Company which has been striking for more than a month now. The Tweeters launched a hashtag #egyworkers, through which tweets about the industrial actions are now aggregated.

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