The same Eid celebrations, sermons and accidents make up the headlines on Egypt's dailys' front pages this morning. Where the newspapers differ greatly, is in their approach of covering these events.
For the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice daily, an Eid-themed front page consists of a cropped photo of a child carrying huge balloons and a headline reading, “million-men marches of joy in Eid prayers’ playgrounds. The president prays in Amr Ibn al-As mosque in the presence of the masses. Children are showered with gifts and citizens flock to public gardens.”
An exact opposite image is shown by the daily Al-Dostour, which has become the Freedom and Justice – the party, the paper and the movement’s – official enemy.
On one of its signature manifesto-style front pages, the headline reads, “Egypt lives an depressed life in Eid days. Ramadan used to be one of the greatest months for Copts before Muslims. But this year, Ramadan was sad and Eid is sadder and it’s all strange for us.”
Note: This is the same Eid, the same country and, the same press.
Al-Dostour, which front pages in the past weeks were filled with conspiratory and fiery coverage about a Brotherhood plot to destroy the country, opted for more emotional language this morning, perhaps in tandem with the Eid mood. “Did the glorious 25 January revolution break out in order for the Brothers to rule us? Did these heroes die in martyrdom for the sake of the Brotherhood?” reads its sub-headline text this morning.
The overtly and uncreatively self-promotional Freedom and Justice daily, meanwhile, adopts the language of the emboldened victorious, with coverage of Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsy’s priority visits to Iran and China following the holiday. The China visit, according to the paper, will tackle trade relations, but also the contentious issue of the ongoing insurrection in Syria.
The Iran visit, which will follow, will be in the occasion of the Non-Alignment Movement meeting, in which Egypt will hand over the presidency of the anti-colonial movement to the Islamic republic in time for it to host the member summit in late August.
Other celebratory news in the paper this morning, include a spot on “the government of the people – goodbye to air conditioned rooms,” among other featured news about how Morsy’s appointed cabinet is more concerned with the people’s needs than their own comfort. It also reports a series of sudden field visits conducted by different ministers in their areas of concern.
Between the two extremes of Al-Dostour and the Freedom and Justice, lies a web of relatively more independent titles, which somehow manage to put forward their editorial inclinations with some journalistic guise.
For one, the newly established Al-Watan daily runs two provocative news stories on its front page. One is based on an interview with Moaz al-Sisi, the son of Abbas al-Sisi, former member of the Brotherhood’s guidance bureau. The name “Sisi” in the headline would automatically drive the reader to think that this is about the new defense minister and head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who Morsy appointed in lieu of the aging Hussein Tantawi in a bold move of claiming control over the military institution.
The story is indeed about how Abbas is the cousin of Abdel Fattah’s father, who never belonged to the Brotherhood, however. The story, meanwhile, reiterates that there is only one Sisi family and it’s the one that groomed a member of the Guidance Bureau. Yet Morsy, says Moaz, did not pick Abdel Fattah based on this connection.
The other story’s headline reads, “A new Brotherhood threat to the protesters of 24 August… He who disobeys the ruler shall be killed.” The story runs a fatwa given by radical preacher Wagdy Ghoneim, who was recently pardoned by Morsy after being banned from entering Egypt under Mubarak, whereby he said it is legitimate to kill those who would protest Morsy’s rule, just like at Prophet Mohamed’s time, those outsiders (khawarij) to Islam were killed by the prophet’s men. The 24 August protest is a call for a million-men march against the rule of the Brothers. The story stops at Ghoneim’s provocative comments, but fails to show the negative reactions of Brotherhood members from this fatwa, which are contained in the partisan Al-Wafd’s daily coverage of the same story. Al-Wafd ran comments by the Brotherhood’s Ahmad Abou Baraka who accused the preacher of spreading hatred and sectarianism.
Away from this Brotherhood-centric polarization, Al-Shorouk daily runs an insightful op-ed by its regular columnist Abdullah al-Sennawy, who subtly salutes Morsy’s decision to send Tantawy to retirement and promote Sisy to the ministry of defense. According to Sennawy’s contacts and information, Sisy, despite being one of the youngest faces in the military institution, emerged an authoritative figure in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. According to Sennawy, Sisy subtly fought the elders of the council and particularly Chief of Staff Sami Anan, who was also sent to retirement by Morsy.
In his expose of Sisi, Sennawy describes him as an eloquent man with a vision, who always thought that economic pleas in the country should be the priority of the authorities. Sennawy also echoed the new defense minister’s complaints that the leadership of the elders in SCAF has not been inspiring.