Tuesday’s papers: Bassem Youssef rises, and so do gas prices

Nearly every daily paper publishes headlines, features, and articles pertaining to the exorbitant rise in the prices of cooking gas canisters.

Though the country has been trapped in various political and economic crises since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, privately owned Al-Shorouk states that the government had decided Monday to place an additional burden on citizens’ shoulders.

The price of state-subsidized cooking gas sold for domestic use was raised to LE8 a canister, while it went up to LE16 for the bigger size used by businesses.

The price hike fueled anger among citizens across governorates, as state-owned newspaper Al-Gomhurriya described the announcement as one that “blows up in the face of [Prime Minister Hesham] Qandil’s Cabinet.”

Gas storage dealers have reportedly gone on strike, demanding the new rule be canceled as it almost ensures that they will make zero profits.

Privately owned daily Al-Tahrir pays a lot of attention to articles in foreign newspapers on the arrest warrant for prominent satirical TV presenter Bassem Youssef on accusations of insulting President Mohamed Morsy and defaming Islam. Youssef was released on LE15,000 bail Sunday afternoon.

Al-Tahrir quotes the British newspaper The Guardian as condemning the recent series of arrest warrants for activists, politicians and vocal opposition media figures, which it says constitutes “an insult to freedom of expression in Egypt.”

In another article, Al-Tahrir covers a news piece published in the American paper The New York Times, which describes Youssef as Egypt’s Jon Stewart in one of its headlines. Stewart is an American satirist whose television show analyzes the political scene and heavily criticizes the performances of various politicians. Al-Tahrir quotes the Times as saying that “the arrest warrant for Youssef proves that Morsy is running out of patience and [has] started to use autocratic tactics” to silence opposition voices.

In a related context, Youssef writes an opinion article on Al-Shorouk’s back page under the sarcastic title “It is much better with the Brotherhood.”

The column is strewn with a plethora of derogatory comments against the Muslim Brotherhood’s ongoing attempts to tighten its grip on the political sphere and how the Islamist group is following in the footsteps of the old regime by shutting the door on the opposition.   

Youssef highlights that the president only listens to the voice of the Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau while categorically refusing any other criticism or advice, even from his own counselors.

He believes that the appointment of counselors to president is merely “an essential part for complementing the beautiful painting of fake democracy.”

Another story making the rounds in the local press is the Supreme Administrative Court’s refusal of a petition calling for the ousted Mubarak to be reinstated.

The liberal opposition Wafd Party’s paper Al-Wafd writes that the verdict was met with outrage by some of Mubarak’s supporters who attended the session. They reportedly insulted the judge in the courtroom and chanted anti-Morsy and Brotherhood slogans.  

On its front page, Freedom and Justice, the mouthpiece of the Brotherhood’s political arm, turns a blind eye to the economic crisis hitting the country.

The paper praises the so-called achievements of the government for boosting the production of iron by 9,200 tons as well as restoring security in Tahrir Square after emptying the area of street vendors and a number of camping protesters.

Predictably, flagship state-run paper Al-Ahram opts for the same optimistic language as the FJP’s paper.

Al-Ahram leads with a report on the president’s meeting with the Egyptian National Youth Team’s players on Sunday, reporting that the players expressed their gratitude and happiness to Morsy for his support of sports, despite the country’s otherwise deplorable conditions.

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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