Monday’s papers: Clashes at the cathedral

Topping today’s news are the clashes which took place outside the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo’s neighborhood of Abbaseya. These clashes are reported to have erupted following a funeral procession from the cathedral of four Copts who had been killed in sectarian clashes on Friday in Khosous, Qalyubiya.

Five people, including one Muslim, had been killed in the Khosous clashes after Christian children allegedly drew a Swastika on the walls of a Muslim school. A local church in this town is reported to have been partially torched in protest.

Privately-owned Al-Shorouk runs the headline, “In the absence of the (Coptic) pope, funeral procession for victims of sectarian clashes in Khosous comes under fire from tear gas and shotguns.” The article mentions that the funeral and subsequent clashes took place at the papal headquarters in the absence of Pope Tawadros II — who was in Alexandria at the time. It also mentions that the church in Khosous was subjected to further attacks on Sunday.

The article points out that the pope did not mention these incidents in his Alexandria sermon. According to Al-Shorouk, police forces were deployed outside the Cathedral after clashes erupted between the mourners and throngs of “local residents” from Abbaseya. Police, the paper reports, shot tear gas into the grounds of the cathedral where mourners had withdrawn, while unknown assailants opened fire on the cathedral’s grounds – with pistols and shotguns from neighboring buildings. Rocks and molotovs are said to have been exchanged between both sides.

The main front page story in state-owned Al-Gomhurriya, “Khosous’ strife reaches Abbasiya” reports that the “funeral procession for victims turns into street warfare.” The paper runs three photos reading, 1) Departure of procession from church (with Copts carrying wooden crosses and coffins) 2) Angry chanting (photo of Copts shouting) 3) Then running street battles (photo of police standing idly by as protesters attack cathedral and scale its walls.)

Youm-7 newspaper runs the headline, “Copts protest from within cathedral: down with the rule of Guide” — in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood’s top leader. According to this article, police forces sided with protesters outside the cathedral “as tear gas and live ammunition were fired against mourners from the funeral procession.”

In Al-Wafd Newspaper, the top headline: “Cathedral chants down with Morsy.. Funeral of victims of Khosous strife turns into protests against Brotherhood rule.” In the account provided by Al-Wafd, clashes between mourners and local residents erupted after angry Coptic protesters attacked police outside the cathedral, smashed five cars and destroyed a few store fronts.

The only newspaper which does not mention the clashes at the cathedral at all is the Muslim Brotherhood’s mouthpiece, the Freedom and Justice paper. It mentions only the clashes in Khosous – “the law extinguishes strife in Khosous.” A sub-headline mentions “Presidency: We will stringently confront those who fan the flames of strife… Supreme Guide mourns families of the victims.”

Another article suggests that “the derogatory paintings on the wall of the Islamic religious center are the cause of the problems” adding that “Islamist forces are seeking a solution to the strife in Khosous.” This article claims that it was not local residents of Khosous who were behind the fatal clashes, but “outsiders.” It also claims that “foreign hands and vandals are seeking to destabilize the country.”

In other news, a strike by train drivers crippled Egypt’s railway network on Sunday and may continue if the strikers’ demands are not met.  “Train drivers’ strike renders railways out of service,” reads a headline in Al-Shorouk. The article mentions that the strikers have given the National Railway Authority 72 hours to meet their demands.

Al-Wafd reports that the National Railway Authority has called on the armed forces to move in and operate the trains in order to end the strike. On this question of army involvement, Youm-7 Newspaper reports “Army: We have no train drivers as we have no trains.” The article mentions that ENRA has also sought the services of retired train drivers to break the strike and has sent a list of names of striking drivers to the prosecution – so as to take punitive legal measures against the strikers.

According to Al-Gomhurriya, the Ministry of Transport is coordinating its efforts with governorates to provide alternate services of buses and microbuses during the course of the strike. Three trains are reported to have broken the strike on Sunday – departing from Cairo’s central Ramses Station to Alexandria and Aswan.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s mouthpiece denounces the railway strike and applauds the “gradual return of train services. The paper trumpets the role of strike-breakers in ending this “nationwide work stoppage.”

In yet other news, related to the continuing saga of the prosecutor general, Egypt’s Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) issued its findings regarding President Mohamed Morsy’s appointment of Talaat Abdallah in December.

“SJC calls on Talaat to vacate his office” reads the top headline in Al-Wafd. Youm-7 publishes excerpts of the SJC’s statement, which calls for the removal of Abdallah and the reinstatement of the previous prosecutor general to his post.

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Newspaper makes no mention whatsoever of the SJC’s findings or statement.

Al-Sabah Newspaper runs an article claiming that a total of “Six bodyguards are entrusted to protect Talaat Abdallah from popular outrage.”

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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