Monday’s papers: Mubarak’s speech, church bombing investigations and Sudanese referendum

The Sudanese referendum, Mubarak’s speech at the Supreme Court, and the latest developments and statements on investigations into the Alexandria Church bombing dominate most Egyptian newspapers today.  

In celebration of the national holiday for the judiciary, President Hosni Mubarak chaired the session of the Supreme Court on Sunday. Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar link the speech to the church bombings, with Al-Ahram quoting the president’s assertion that Muslims and Copts are equal in the eyes of the law, while Al-Akhbar headlines with Mubarak's statement that “the judiciary is our steadfast fortress in the face of terrorism.” 

Both government-run papers mention a segment of the president's speech in which he said that “the greatest threat to people’s trust in the judiciary is the media’s coverage of Supreme Court cases." Mubarak added that this "gives the people false first impressions of the issues.”

Al-Shorouk, which gives Mubarak's speech less coverage, highlights a section in which the president said that “slow justice engenders a bitter feeling,” and called on judges to work toward fixing such problems.

A broad turnout for the referendum on the independence of southern Sudan is also big news for the relatively large southern Sudanese refugee population in Egypt. Al-Wafd reports a high attendance rate at local polling stations, with high expectations and a vibrant mood in the community. “This is the moment the south has been waiting for,” head of the southern Sudanese government, Silva Kiir, is quoted as saying. The south of Sudan reportedly saw a very large turnout as well, with Al-Ahram noting that that many southern Sudanese voters slept in front of polling station. Al-Akhbar reports on a carnival atmosphere in the south.

The Sudanese referendum is of special importance to Egypt. As Egypt's Foreign Minister, Ahmed Abou Elgheit, is quoted as saying in Al-Akhbar and Al-Ahram, “Egypt is following the situation closely.”  

New grueling details about the Alexandria bombing investigation are revealed in Al-Shorouk, which runs the headline: “New body parts found on the mosque across from the Church of Two Saints.” Events surrounding the Salafi man who was allegedly tortured and killed in police custody under suspicion of involvement in the bombing are also reported to be under investigation, with an autopsy refuting torture claims. Meanwhile the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyeb and Parliamentary Speaker Fathi Sorour have confirmed to German parliamentarians that there is no discrimination in Egypt, saying that Copts do not need special attention.  

Al-Ahram and Al-Wafd are the only two papers which mention the deadly riots in Tunisia and Algeria. Al-Wafd describes the events as “an outburst of anger due to unemployment and inflation,” while Al-Ahram reports that the number of deceased in Tunisia stands at eight.  

In the arts, Deputy Minister of Culture Mohsen Shaalan and 20 others are undergoing disciplinary hearings for negligence in connection with the theft of the US$55 million “Poppy Flowers” van Gogh painting, which was stolen in August.

Al-Ahram is the only paper to mention the shooting of US Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords, while Al-Dostour has an entirely unique front page, headling with the fact that the US embassy is compiling a security dossier on all findings from the investigations.  

As students at university begin their mid-year exams, Al-Dostour reports that Ain Shams University has banned women wearing niqabs from entering examination rooms. Also in the same paper is a report which alleges that 14.5 million acres of farmland are controlled by 500 businessmen who are using their influence to prevent some of this fertile land from being cultivated.

Al-Dostour also runs a feature on the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood members of the “international organization," which it describes as a “purely political scenario.” The paper goes on to describe the members' frustration with the situation, whereby they are alleged to have taken part in an international money-laundering ring. 

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-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned


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