Sunday’s papers: Pope Shenouda’s death and the constituent assembly

The announcement of Pope Shenouda III’s death came late yesterday to make all of today’s papers, but state-owned Al-Ahram delayed printing to include coverage of the passing of patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Under the simple headline, “Pope Shenouda … Goodbye,” the newspaper is effusive in its praise for the late pope and all he offered during his years of service to the church and to Egypt. It begins by stating that the pope’s death is not only a loss to Egypt, but to the world. It lauds his patriotism and his love for all Egyptians, Muslim and Christian. 

It also includes Shenouda’s famous line, “Egypt is not a nation we live in, but a nation that lives within us.”

Aside from that late piece of news, today’s papers focus on the joint parliamentary decision on the composition of the constituent assembly that will draft Egypt’s new constitution. The point of contention is that the People’s Assembly and the Shura Council voted for half the assembly’s members being selected from within Parliament.

Al-Shorouk comments on this with the headline, “Parliament reserves half the constituent assembly for itself.” The majority Freedom and Justice Party offered this option immediately before voting began, according to the privately owned paper. The motion passed with a vast majority, and the paper quotes the head of the Nour Party’s parliamentary bloc, Mostafa Khalifa, as saying, “The FJP and the Nour Party have 70 percent of the Parliament, which means around 20 million Egyptians voted for them. It is inconceivable that these two parties do not represent the opinions of citizens.”

Privately owned Youm7 echoes Al-Shorouk’s line with the headline, “The constitution in the grip of the Salafis and the Brotherhood.” It says that the swiftness with which the FJP proposition was agreed upon indicated a prior agreement between it and the Nour Party.

The newspaper also says political opposition groups called the decision a setback and vowed to appeal to the courts to annul the decision. It quotes spokespeople from the National Association for Change and the April 6 Youth Movement who called the decision “provocative.”

The other news making headlines today concerns the continued fallout from February’s Port Said Stadium violence, which left 74 football fans dead. Party paper Al-Wafd reports that Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri is to announce a new governor for Port Said within days, as well as a penalty for its local football team Masry.

Al-Ahram reports that Ganzouri also decided to have cameras placed in all sporting venues at the request of the Public Prosecution, to better ascertain criminal liability.

Meanwhile, onto the upcoming presidential elections and the Muslim Brotherhood’s internal feud over the candidacy of former member Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh due to the support he has within the group’s rank and file. Abouel Fotouh was expelled from the Brotherhood for deciding to run as an independent candidate, the group having stated that it would back an external candidate rather than one of its members. Youm7 reports on a “mutiny” as Brotherhood leaders in Beni Suef decided to back Abouel Fotouh’s bid.

Ten Brotherhood members, senior and junior, have submitted their signatures to back Abouel Fotouh. Candidates need 30,000 signatures to be eligible to run in the elections slated for late May. The Beni Suef Brotherhood mutineers state that the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau does not own its members, who should have the freedom to choose who they feel represents them best. Youm7 also reports that there are differences among the top members of the FJP — the Brotherhood’s political arm — regarding who to back as candidate, as they feel none of the names currently out there fit the bill.

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

Al-Nour: Official paper of the Salafi Nour Party

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