Tuesday’s papers: Papal elections at crossroads

“A historical day in the church for electing the pope’s successor,” reads the top headline of Tuesday’s state-run Al-Akhbar.

The selection of the three finalists for the seat of the 118th patriarch predictably dominates the headlines of Tuesday’s state-run and independent newspapers. The election marks a crucial phase for Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority amid mounting anxieties about its status under Islamist rule.

The papal election has also been drawing significant attention, as it is the first in 41 years following the death of Pope Shenouda III in March.

The liberal partisan daily Wafd writes that Bishop Rafael, the bishop of downtown Cairo; Father Rafael Ava Mina; and Bishop Tawadros of the Beheira Governorate in the Nile Delta received the highest number of votes, making them eligible to enter the “fateful” lottery.

Next Sunday, in accordance to church custom, a blindfolded child will randomly select the name of one of the three candidates to be enthroned in a ceremony on 18 November.

Nearly every daily asserts that the electoral process is transparent and efficient amid tight security measures and extensive media coverage.

The independent daily Al-Shorouk reports that long queues of voters were stretched in front of the papal headquarters at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Abbasseya early on Monday, as that an emergency committee was formed of advisors and trusted Coptic figures to investigate and resolve any complaints might arise.

Moving to the Constituent Assembly, the body tasked by drafting the country’s new constitution, Al-Akhbar writes that assembly members will meet Tuesday, hopefully, to reach common ground on controversial articles pertaining the application of Sharia, the president’s power to appoint a prime minister, and equality between men and women.

The assembly has come under fire by liberal forces and leftists since its formation for its domination by Islamists. The debate over some constitutional articles, however, has recently reached a boiling point, as ultra-conservative Salafi movements cause flare-ups over Article 2.

Freedom and Justice, the daily newspaper issued by the ruling party, leads with a headline, “Political forces welcome Morsy’s call for a discussion over the constitution.”

Inside the story, the paper states that “some” political powers agreed to take part in the initiative, announced by President Mohamed Morsy last week during his meeting with representatives of different political movements, syndicates and universities in an attempt to salvage the assembly from its widening rifts.

FJP adopts its common language of emphasizing Morsy’s actions and striving to turn them into outstanding achievements, a journalistic approach that brings the same hypocritical editorial policies of state-run papers under Hosni Mubarak to mind.

The report lists a number of politicians who categorically support Morsy’s decision describing it “a positive step on the way of narrowing the gap between constituent assembly and civil forces” as well as “good chance for ending the crisis of debatable constitutional articles.”

The paper only quotes Ahmed Khairy, a member of the Free Egyptians Party, who refuses to respond to Morsy’s call unless a comprehensive framework set prior to the meeting is immediately implemented afterwards.

For the second day in a row, the “Nasr City terrorist cell” finds a space on Tuesday’s front-pages with the recent arrest of three terror suspects. Reportedly, the alleged defendants belong to the same Islamist militant cell from which five suspects were arrested on 25 October after an armed confrontation with police. They were accused of planning to assassinate Morsy, but they denied this accusation, stressing their aim of fighting against Israel and America.

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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