Sunday’s papers: Controversy over draft constitution, protests


Controversy over the first draft of the constitution and its authors, which have been under fire since the draft was issued on 10 October, continues to top headlines on Sunday, alongside mounting tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood and its opposition from “civilian powers.”

State-run daily Rose al-Youssef runs a headline reading, “From the Judges Club to the Constituent Assembly: Your constitution is rejected” in bold red letters, without providing further details.

Privately-owned Youm7 quotes the head of the Judges Club, Ahmed al-Zend, as saying that the articles undermine the independence of the judiciary and offer a vague interpretation of the public prosecution’s role.

He added that there is a scheme to “mess with the judiciary and the public prosecution” in the new constitution.

For its part, privately-owned Al-Tahrir reports that the Judges Club threatens to “obstruct work” in all courts around Egypt if the Constituent Assembly doesn’t heed to its demands.

Privately-owned daily Al-Shorouk highlights differences in the Constituent Assembly between the Wording Committee and the Systems of Governance Committee.

The independent daily quotes Gamal Gibril, head of the Systems of Governance Committee, criticizing the Wording Committee for approving amendments proposed by the Supreme Constitutional Court, saying it wasn’t within its jurisdiction to approve any articles.

He added that the proposed amendments haven’t been reviewed by his committee yet.

State-run Al-Ahram quotes Gibril giving statements that conflict with those reported by Al-Shorouk, saying that the committee approved articles giving the Supreme Constitutional Court the authority to give the final ruling on contradictory verdicts from lower courts and handling the affairs of its members, while the article determining the number of the court’s members to be 11 instead of 19 remains. He added that the article giving the president the authority to appoint the members of the Supreme Constitutional Court remains under debate.

Last week, the Supreme Constitutional Court slammed articles related to its jurisdiction and composition, saying they undermined its authority and stripped it of its basic powers.

The judiciary and liberal powers aren’t the only ones criticizing the draft constitution; hardline conservative Salafis are calling for protests on Friday demanding a constitution that implements Islamic Sharia.

While state-run Rose al-Youssef calls its story on the coming Friday protests “No to the constitution” and merges it with a story about the confusion that mars the Constituent Assembly, privately-owned Al-Watan newspaper leads with the story on the first page, dubbing it “A million man march for Sharia.”

Al-Watan cites around 30 Salafi groups and parties participating in the protests including the Islamic mainstream (Al-Tayar al-Ismaly al-Aam) which includes more than 22 Salafi groups, the Salafi Front, the Fadila party and the Hazemoun movement which supports Salafi Sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail.

Salafis say the second article of the draft constitution does not provide a clear framework for Islamic Sharia to be implemented in the future. The article currently reads that the “principles of Sharia are the main source of legislation,” but the group would like the word “main” to be removed as it implies that Sharia won’t be fully implemented in the law.

Al-Watan says that a number of members of the Salafi Dawah accused the Brotherhood of stabbing them in the back after they vowed to implement Sharia law in the constitution.

The independent daily quotes a member of the Freedom and Justice Party’s executive bureau Abdu al-Bardawil as saying that the Brotherhood won’t participate in the protests, especially since there is an article explaining and interpreting what the word “principles” means.

Rose al-Youssef quotes Constituent Assembly member and Salafi Dawah spokesperson Sheikh Yasser Borhamy saying that his group is still contemplating whether to participate in the protests or not, without going into further detail.

Another headline that dominated the papers was the FJP offering an initiative to “reunite” political powers following liberal and leftist parties and activist groups protesting on Friday against the Brotherhood’s domination of the political scene.

Al-Watan reports that liberal and leftist powers are demanding an apology from the Brotherhood over the clashes that took place on 12 October between anti-Morsy protesters and Brotherhood supporters in Tahrir Square, leaving over 100 injured.

The independent daily Al-Dostour says that the Constituent Assembly is dominated by Islamists and must be removed before any kind of reconciliation between the Brotherhood and liberal forces takes place.

On Friday, Saad al-Katatny was elected head of the FJP, replacing current President Mohamed Morsy, and he gave a speech seeking alliances with rivals.

The Freedom and Justice Party mouthpiece predictably hails Katatny’s call, claiming that other political powers welcomed his bid to “reunite.” The partisan daily leads with this story on its front page.

The Freedom and Justice also slams the protests held by liberal and leftist parties on Friday, claiming that they called for the return of the dissolved National Democratic Party. However, the protesters’ main demands included a constitution that represents all Egyptians and social justice.

Al-Tahrir lists the pros and cons of the Friday protest in an article titled, “Egypt is nobody’s estate,” and points out how some deemed the protests a success while other political forces viewed it as a failure. Both Al-Tahrir and Al-Dostour question whether Morsy had received liberal powers’ message to the Brotherhood.

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

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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