Monday’s papers: Conflicting news reports abound

Depending on which newspaper one reads, Monday’s papers take the reader from a country on its way toward development with a promising future and rosy present to a country on the brink of disaster.

The Freedom and Justice Party’s newspaper calls the recent reports on Coptic family displacement in Rafah “a media stunt.” Freedom and Justice reports that North Sinai Governor Sayed Abdel Fattah Harhour said there was no displacement of Coptic families, no one forced the Coptic community to leave, and most of the families have still remained. A few families asked to stay in Arish and were given the right to do so as a temporary security measure.

Of course, Freedom and Justice doesn’t miss a chance to boast about its excellent media skills, pointing out that it is the “only newspaper to publish the truth about Coptic displacement in North Sinai.”

In a separate story, Freedom and Justice reports that Bishop Qezman said what was reported on the displacement of Coptic families was inaccurate and while some families chose to stay with relatives for security reasons, they did not leave the city. He also said the problems are tribal and not sectarian.

Meanwhile, the new private newspaper Al-Sabah, whose editor-in-chief is media personality Wael al-Ibrashy, completely contradicts the previous report. It says Bishop Qezman said all Coptic families in the Rafah area left for Arish after threats made against them.

In even more conflicting news reports, Freedom and Justice writes that the Egyptian government will open the first water station to serve 1 million people. But state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reports a “spike” in the price of water in tourist areas that did not affect regular citizens.

Moving to private newspaper Al-Watan, water prices are handled differently. The paper says the public utilities minister reported a rise in water prices, mostly in tourist areas, that is also affecting regular citizens.

A group called the People Against Price Rises warned against the problem, and its leader, Mohamed Askalany, said it was a “response to the International Monetary Fund’s call to raise the price of water” and that it was not the right time for such a move, according to Al-Watan.

President Mohamed Morsy’s visit to Turkey on 30 September was also handled differently in the media. According to Freedom and Justice, Morsy said in his speech that “the world only respects a country that relies on itself.”

The president thanked Turkey for its continuous support, and spoke of Egypt’s support for the Syrian people against their dictator, Freedom and Justice said. Morsy also said Egypt and Arabs in general must find a solution to the ongoing conflict in Syria, and won’t rest until the bloodshed stops and until the people can choose their ruler. He said the Arab Spring needs Turkish support.

Al-Watan, however, handled Morsy’s statements as a call for war with Syria. The paper bases its lead story on the message between the lines, as Morsy asserts Egypt’s support for Syria and the call for Syrian freedom.

Statements from the head of the Free Syrian Army welcome military intervention from Arab countries, Al-Watan writes. Saif Abdel Fattah, political adviser to the president, said Egypt is looking into Qatar’s suggestion for military intervention, but then made a Facebook statement warning against such a move. The newspaper takes all these aspects as signs that Egypt is thinking of intervening, and that this would be a mistake.

Al-Ahram newspaper leads the story on the president’s visit to Turkey with Finance Minister Momtaz al-Saeed, saying Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan approved a US$1 billion loan to Egypt.

The state paper also reports that residents of the Cairo informal neighborhood of Duweiqa, fearing more rockslides in their area, are stuck between their rubble and official statements. It blames residents for not complying with safety instructions, asking them to move to safer places with better facilities allocated by the government.

Independent newspaper Al-Shorouk features a special report describing the problem in Duweiqa, saying that although they live in horrible conditions, the government does not believe them.

The rosy picture painted by Al-Ahram and Freedom and Justice completes their image of 100 days of their own successes. The newspapers report on a plan made by the president to address security and other issues that he pledged to complete during his first 100 days in office.

Freedom and Justice also reports that there will be no rise in Hajj prices this year. After reports on unrest in North Sinai and blaming current events in Rafah on security problems, the party paper says Local Development Minister Ahmed Zaki Abdeen said security is the most successful element of the 100-day plan.

As for education, Freedom and Justice reports that Education Minister Ibrahim Ghoneim says a plan to develop education from 2012 to 2017 is underway, and there is a need to double the ministries’ budget and expand on skill-focused initiatives.

Al-Ahram reports that Ghoneim ordered a ban on mobile phones in all elementary and early childhood schools. For health reasons, students will not be allowed to bring phones to schools, and teachers will not be allowed to use them around young children. Some reports have showed that mobile phones can damage brain cells, and this is a move to protect children, Al-Ahram says.

Meanwhile, an editorial by Osama Hamoud in Freedom and Justice titled “The 100-day trial” is scattered with a plethora of derogatory comments on skeptics of the current regime. He then continues to make excuses as to why the president hasn’t fulfilled his promises even though the 100 days have passed. Hamoud might have not been in touch with the rest of the news in his newspaper, because although Freedom and Justice goes to great extent to show the success of the past 100 days, Hamoud pardons them, saying the country is left with bad resources and a lack of cooperation from the people.

Freedom and Justice also quotes prominent FJP figure Essam al-Erian on the recent dismantling of Parliament, saying it helped in the president’s popularity and will result in a Parliament that is 100 percent FJP members, as opposed to the nearly 50 percent of seats it previously held.

In more news, all newspapers report that former President Hosni Mubarak and other former regime members are to face an appeals trial in December, and that former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq faces trial on accusations of facilitating the control over money owned by the airline EgyptAir.

Al-Ahram also reports that a three-day Coptic fast begins today, in hopes of a smooth transition as they choose the 118th pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church. A screening process will end on 5 October, in which five or seven finalists will be chosen. An election will be held 24 November.

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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