Wednesday’s papers: Fear-mongering, conspiracies and gas prices

Internal politics are the focus of Wednesday’s newspapers, with the gas crisis, teachers on strike, public transportation and other issues discussed at length with speculations and conspiracy theories decorated with facts and mostly conflicting information here and there.

Promising news of the presidency providing US$400 million dollars to solve the gas and solar energy problem in Egypt  is followed by what seems to be news of who is to blame in party paper Freedom and Justice's revelation that “the third party” in the gas crisis is actually the accusations thrown around between the ministries of Finance, Petroleum and Supply. The newspaper’s seemingly important scoop turns into a na├»ve solution in which parties and ministries playing nice instead of pointing fingers.

In independent Al-Watan newspaper, a headline says the Muslim Brotherhood is giving Prime Minister Hesham Qandil’s government an ultimatum to identify the cause of the gas crisis or leave office. Al-Watan continues to say that the Freedom and Justice Party is threatening the government with popular resistance if the shortage continues.

Al-Watan also leads with inside information on the government lowering gasoline subsidies, increasing gas prices up to LE3.75 per liter and increasing natural gas prices to LE2.20 per liter.

In liberal party paper Al-Wafd news of unrest in different provinces over the gas shortages focuses on the death of a police officer during a crackdown on a mob of smugglers. The smugglers were allegedly caught selling 4 million liters of natural gas and gasoline.

State-run Al-Ahram leads with a headline showing the president, prime minister and minister of petroleum discussing the predicament. After writing at length that they met, discussed and made promises, the article then reveals that a plan was formulated to have the national reserve of gas cover 20 days in the event of a shortage, as opposed to the current three-day reserve.

Independent Al-Shorouk newspaper focuses on the ongoing strikes and protests around the country. The minister of education’s response to teacher strikes calling for a minimum wage of LE3000 and other points to improve their work standards was “no budget for the teachers even if they strike for a whole year.”

News on the public transportation crisis appears in Al-Shorouk, where Tarek al-Beheiry, official spokesperson of the Independent Union for Public Transportation, says solving the public transportation problem is in the hands of President Mohamed Morsy and Qandil.

Freedom and Justice carries a small statement by the youth of the paper’s affiliate group, the Muslim Brotherhood, showing its support for the student protests at Nile University.

It then disappointingly follows the statement with a full-page feature showing different opinions on the continuing protests. The feature disregards the reasons behind the protests and simply focuses on whether protests and strikes are useful. One comment by criminal lawyer Mohamed Shehata describes the protests and strikes as an attempt to halt the development of the Islamic project. He blames what he describes as irresponsible statements by some of those calling for a criminal investigation of former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, citing them as a secret signal to begin the strikes and protests in true conspiracy theory style.

Al-Wafd newspaper claims intelligence in Cairo has come up with the names of 20 public figures who funded the attacks on the US Embassy. These suspects, who are not named in the article, come from a spectrum that ranges from the far right all the way to the far left.

Al-Wafd leads with what can only be a call for fear, with pictures of female Israeli soldiers in what the paper alleges is their military attire — short shorts and machine guns. The story is about how Israel is preparing for war to conquer Sinai. Al-Wafd claims there has been a mobilization of female commandos along the borders under the guise of protecting their borders from infiltrators.

Another fear-mongering piece in Al-Wafd leads with the headline, “A failure of the plan for the eviction of the Coptic Community.” The article then describes the details of a misunderstanding regarding a statement made by the Dutch Consulate paving the way for Egyptians seeking political asylum in the Netherlands. The statement had many Copts heading to the embassy, where they were denied requests for political asylum. The consulate explains that the cases spoken of are those already living in the netherlands, and that cases considered for asylum are not based on religion but based on actual possible danger for the applicant.

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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