Egypt Independent

Monday’s papers: Question marks



"Who’s to blame?!!" — Al-Gomhurriya wants to know, posing the question on the state-owned paper’s front page over a crude collage of recent violence. "The clashes are ongoing, the accusations mutual and Egypt is the victim," reads the subheadline about a topic that continues to dominate the nation’s front pages.

Three days of uninterrupted fighting between protesters and armed forces have left 11 dead and 373 wounded, according to Al-Ahram. The state-owned paper points out in its front page headline that “the body of an ex-convict was found in the General Authorities of Roads and Bridges building,” which had been vandalized and set on fire during the recent clashes. The same headline also features an impressively specific "first-hand" account by an eyewitness who claimed to have counted “500 thugs and street children carrying out acts of vandalism according to specific orders.”
 
The rest of the paper’s coverage comes under similarly challenging headlines. In fact, the state-owned daily is only worth mentioning for being one of the few major news publications on the planet not currently featuring any incriminating photos of the Egyptian military in action. Page five of Monday’s edition is so removed from reality, it might in itself be a portal to an alternate dimension. In the scope of a single page, and under the heading "Egypt’s heart in flames," Al-Ahram pins the blame on drug addicts, street children, ex-cons and soccer hooligans. The paper doesn’t neglect recent widespread reports of intentional violence against women, either — one article tells the story of a young woman attacked by a police officer before promptly being saved by a police lieutenant. 
 
Al-Shorouk, Al-Wafd and Youm7 all feature similar breakdowns of the clashes, noting developments such as the violence spilling out on Sheikh Rihan Street, the unprecedented extent of participation in the fighting by students and young children, and the undeniable involvement of “suspicious elements.”
 
All papers comment on the swell of public outrage following the widespread circulation of multiple photos depicting women being brutally abused at the hands of armed soldiers.
 
Party paper Al-Wafd, in its summary of the violence that occurred from Saturday night to Sunday morning, reports that on two occasions protesters successfully captured a soldier, only to “strip him of his clothes” and “beat him incessantly as payback for his colleagues’ abuse of women.” The soldiers, unconscious, were removed from the scene by ambulance services.
 
Al-Wafd also features a brief report on the role played by children in the recent violence, specifically as human shields for supposed protesters. “Some children are drawn by curiosity to the clashes,” the paper informs. “Some end up participating, either by throwing stones … or acting as human shields to protect adolescents and older protesters from the military police and Central Security Forces.” Commenting on the phenomenon, director of the Arab Center for Democracy and Human Rights Mohamed Moneib warned that the involvement of children could “serve to escalate the violence and feelings of resentment between the people and the military." He also noted the involvement of “mysterious elements intent on perpetuating the current state of chaos.”
 
Youm7, which runs photos of armed soldiers brandishing machine guns ("rashashat") on its front page, features a "special file" titled "Sins of the SCAF," which highlights the many violations committed by ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in its response to the protests. The paper also reports on the SCAF’s new video campaign, in which it posts its own videos of the clashes on Facebook. "Communique 90," the first video posted, gives viewers a chance to witness acts of vandalism from the council’s choppily edited perspective.
 
Youm7 also reports on Emad Eddin Effat, the Al-Azhar sheikh killed during Friday’s violence. Effat was shot twice — through the arm and chest — his autopsy concluding that because the bullets exited his body, he “must have been shot at close range” and not from a rooftop as previously suggested.
 
In Al-Shorouk, "military specialists" reveal that they have, in fact, discovered the identity of the unknown "third party" long blamed by the supreme council for "the violence that has gripped Egypt since president Mubarak stepped down." According to the anonymous specialists, "Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Kuwait, as well as Iran and the United States, are all employing internal elements, including members of the former regime as well as soccer hooligans, in order to further destabilize the country." The anonymous specialists explained that they had not gone public with their discovery as "Egypt is now in a transitional phase, and it would not be wise to disclose such information to the general public."
 
The independent daily also features a heartfelt piece by detained blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah, titled "Half an hour with my son Khaled." Abd El Fattah writes of seeing his newborn son for the first time, of being allowed to hold him for 10 whole minutes. With emotion than can neither be adequately summarized nor paraphrased, Abd El Fattah describes the sense of purpose reignited in him by meeting his son. He writes of the past year, the present mess, and the importance of the ongoing fight against an oppressive rule. "Love is eternal, sadness is eternal, [Tahrir] is eternal, the martyrs are eternal, the country is eternal. But their nation," he writes, referring to the SCAF, "their nation will last for an hour, just one hour." It is worth mentioning the Arabic word for eternal is "khaled."
 
Also in Al-Shorouk, General Abdel Moneim Kato describes the armed soldiers’ overtly aggressive methods of dealing with protesters as "an appropriate response to attempts to burn down the parliamentary building." Kato then proceeded to criticize the media’s coverage of the recent clashes, complaining "[media outlets] hold on to the tiniest details without offering to solve the problem … we’re all watching Egypt and its history burn, and you’re concerned over some street bully who deserves to be thrown into Hitler’s ovens."
 
Kato is currently serving as a counselor to the armed forces on morale affairs.
 
Meanwhile, Egypt’s gas pipeline to Israel has been attacked for the 10th time this year, according to various news sources.
 
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-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