Monday’s papers: Security in North Sinai, papal elections dominate headlines

News of the dismissal of North Sinai Security Director General Ahmed Bakr and the election of Bishop Tawadros as the 118th pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church dominate Monday’s headlines.

State-run Al-Ahram neglects to mention updates on the protests taking place in Sinai, and focuses on the “quick visit” of the defense and interior ministers, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Ahmed Gamal Eddin, to the governorate Sunday to meet with North Sinai officials and check the security situation. The visit followed the death of three policemen and the injury of a fourth in an attack by gunmen on a police patrol in the North Sinai capital of Arish Saturday.

The paper also quoted state news agency MENA saying that Gamal Eddin dismissed Bakr, and appointed his deputy, General Samih Ahmed Bashady, in his place.

Freedom and Justice, the Muslim Brotherhood’s mouthpiece, shed more light on the protests in North Sinai, reporting that Gamal Eddin met with policemen who had been protesting around the Arish Security Directorate since Saturday to listen to their concerns. The policemen said they have been left without protection to face militants’ attacks. The daily also quoted a security source denying that activists had broken into the governorate’s headquarters, demanding that the governor be sacked from his post.

Freedom and Justice also mentions that Gamal Eddin and Sisi met with tribal leaders and political powers inside the governorate headquarters — an account that independent papers deny took place.

Privately owned Al-Watan reports that the two ministers were scheduled to meet with North Sinai’s tribal leaders, but they abruptly left the governorate without meeting them.

The independent daily quoted a security source saying that security was beefed up in the governorate, with more than 150 checkpoints set up and a large amount of security forces and equipment deployed.

In his op-ed in Al-Watan, Emad Eddin Adeeb says, “Save Sinai from itself.” Adeeb described Sinai as a “time bomb” about to explode in everyone’s face at any moment because of negligence that has lasted for years.

Adeeb dissects Sinai into three main players, and says that the Bedouin tribes that were sidelined under the Israeli occupation, and even more after Sinai was retrieved by the Egyptian government following the 1979 peace treaty, are the main players. However, Adeeb did not mention the other players in Sinai.

He said the loyalty of Bedouin tribes was questioned during the Israeli occupation because they were Egyptians, and they were later questioned again under the Egyptian government because they lived under the Israeli occupation and dealt with it for years.

Adeeb raises an interesting question on justifying why Islamic groups in Sinai are fighting against a regime headed by President Mohamed Morsy, whose roots lie in the Muslim Brotherhood that raises the slogan of implementing Sharia.

Adeeb replies that the feud between jihadi groups and the Muslim Brotherhood goes back 30 years, when Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri got into public, verbal feuds against the Brotherhood.

Privately owned Al-Shorouk leads with “Arish is under the army’s protection.” It states that the military forces retrieved control over North Sinai after a “night of terror” during which police completely withdrew from Arish and Rafah in protest of the killing of three of their colleagues.

Al-Shorouk reports that the policemen prevented Gamal Eddin from entering the security directorate for more than an hour, pushing him to dismiss the security director.

The election of Bishop Tawadros as the 118th pope to lead the Coptic Orthodox Church, following late Pope Shenouda III, who held the post for 40 years, also dominated headlines.

Al-Ahram emphasizes the unity between all Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, as they congratulate the Copts for electing Tawadros on his 60th birthday.

Tawadros stressed that he would serve the Egyptian people, including Muslims and Copts, according to Al-Ahram.

The state-run daily also said that Morsy sent a telegram congratulating Tawadros. Morsy pointed out in his telegram that the Egyptian people are one, infiltrated by the spirit of Brotherhood and love between its Muslims and Copts.

The Freedom and Justice has a spread on page six on the issues that need to be addressed by the new pope, including the unified law on the construction of places of worship, allowing divorce among Copts, the closed churches around Egypt, and the pope’s relationship with diaspora Copts.

Al-Watan’s headline says, “Coptic thinkers: Tawadros will follow Shenouda’s political footsteps.”

The independent daily quotes Coptic researcher Suleiman Shafiq saying that how Tawadros has dealt with issues related to radical Islam, Coptic revolutionaries’ demands and Coptic leaders indicates that he will follow in the late Pope Shenouda’s  footsteps.

He added that Tawadros would take a more positive role toward Muslims.

Al-Watan reiterated in the article how ultraconservative leaders refused to congratulate the new pope, adding that senior jihadi leader Osama Qassem said it was against Sharia to congratulate the new pope.

Al-Shorouk designated a two-page spread on pages six and seven, including a detailed coverage of the rituals of the final stage of the papal election, and reactions to it.

The independent daily leads with the interim pope, Bishop Pachomius, announcing that Morsy promised church leaders he would attend the inauguration ceremony of Tawadros on 18 November, adding that some considered it an embarrassment for the president before he officially announced his attendance himself.

In a process known as the alter lottery, 6-year-old Bishoy Gerges, while blindfolded, chose the paper with Pope Tawadros’ name written on it, announcing him as the new pope.

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

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