Egypt Independent

Today’s papers: Responsible debts and primitive bombs

Al-Ahram led with the news that Egypt regularly meets all of its foreign financial commitments and has "never been a day late" in paying debts, according to Farouk el-Okda, governor of the Central Bank of Egypt. El-Okda told the paper that the economy is improving, as are current relationships with “the outside world.” Al-Ahram also reported el-Okda’s claim of a budget surplus of LE2.6 billion for the first half of the 2009/10 fiscal year, compared to the LE546.8 million in debt recorded at the same time one year earlier.

The good news continued in Al-Akhbar, with a celebratory headline declaring “Decision to be made today concerning female judges within National Council,” supported by the subhead “Suzanne Mubarak invites Egyptian women to fight for their deserved rights.”

According to Al-Akhbar, a special sub-council of the National Council will reach a decision today on whether or not women have the right to serve as judges in the administrative courts. Al-Akhbar also reported on First Lady Suzanne Mubarak’s “surprise appearance” at an NDP conference of the Women’s Trust, where she made a “request to all Egyptian women,” pleading with them to fight for their rights in order to preserve the “accomplishments of the past five years.”

Mrs. Mubarak also encouraged Egyptian women to take a stronger interest in the decisions that influence their communities. “Women are entitled to voice their enlightened and insightful opinions, and they should seize their legal and constitutional rights,” Mrs. Mubarak said according to Al-Akhbar. NDP speaker Safwat el-Sherif contributed his own insightful opinion at yesterday’s Shura Council meeting, stating his faith in the National Council’s ability to reach a fair decision. El-Sherif added that the Shura Council fully supports the notion of equality between men and women.

Al-Wafd’s front page focused on the “Explosive package thrown at Jewish synagogue in the heart of Cairo,” its leading headline. A yet-to-be-identified man checked into the downtown Panorama Hotel with the sole purpose of throwing a poorly designed bomb out of a fourth-floor window in the general direction of the neighboring synagogue.

State-owned papers only gave brief coverage to the incident, but Al-Wafd included a big story and images of police forces around the temple. The paper also reported on the “primitive” nature of the explosive package, which for the most part consisted of four jugs of benzene tied to ragged clothing and an assortment of flammable objects such as a lighter and a matchbox. Despite the fact that nobody was injured and no damage was caused—the “bomb” was reported to have landed on the sidewalk outside the synagogue—Al-Wafd reports that Israeli media has promptly “taken advantage” of the incident by portraying it as a typical example of the ongoing persecution of Jews in Egypt.

Unsurprisingly, Mohamed ElBaradei graced yet another front page of Al-Dostour, with his image under the headline “ElBaradei begins political activities with meeting fellow presidential candidate Amr Moussa.” With the meeting set to take place at noon today, Al-Dostour also hints at the possibility of a press conference.

The report also includes statements from Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science and activist against Gamal Mubarak’s succession to the presidency. Nafaa announced that ElBaradei will also meet with representatives of “every school of thought that wishes to direct inquiries to him regarding his next political move,” especially in regard to the “popular demand” for his presidential nomination.

Egypt’s newspapers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt
Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size
Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run
Rose el-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party’s Policies Secretariat
Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned
Al-Shorouq: Daily, privately owned
Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party
Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party
Youm7: Weekly, privately owned
Sawt el-Umma: Weekly, privately owned