Monday’s papers: Tanta lawyers re-sentenced, Mubarak speech and Rafah closure

Both government-owned and private dailies lead with news of the re-sentencing of two Tanta lawyers, convicted of assaulting Tanta Public Prosecutor Bassem Abu al-Rus. 

Al-Ahram reports that the Tanta Appeals Court passed out a sentence of two years and three months in prison to Ehab Saei Eddin and Mustafa Fatuh. The lawyers were originally handed down a five-year prison sentence and a LE300 fine last June.

Privately owned Al-Dostour also covers the case, reporting on the reaction of the Lawyers Syndicate chairman, Hamdy Khalifa, who disappeared after the appeal sentence and switched off his mobile. Sameh Ashour, the former Lawyers Syndicate chairman, told Al-Dostour that strong reactions are expected as the verdict is still extremely harsh and shows the "mismanagement" of the crisis. Mokhtar al-Ashry, board member of the Lawyers’ Syndicate, said, “We will appeal the verdict,” and called for a further retrial. 

Reporting on the same case, the independent newspaper Al-Shorouq does not add anything substantial, but quotes lawyer Montassr al-Zayat, a former Lawyers Syndicate board member, as describing the verdict as a “disaster,” and calling for the resignation of Hamdy Khalifa, which al-Zayat says is "the best solution for this crisis,” which, he adds, has erroded and destroyed the dignity of the legal profession.

News of President Hosni Mubarak’s speech during the annual celebration of Laylat al-Qadr occupies major space on the front pages of state-owned newspapers, while privately owned papers such as Al-Dostour and Al-Shouroq do not pay it any attention.

Al-Ahram writes that Mubarak warned in his speech against distorting the image of Islam not only in foreign countries, but also in Egypt. He stressed that “Egypt will remain the fortress of Islam and a symbol of its tolerance and moderation," and that it is fully able to preserve the unity of Muslims and Christians.

Mubarak also said, according to the paper, that "the Palestinian question will continue to be the key to our regional security,” a reference to Egypt’s efforts to revive the peace process in hopes of reaching an agreement between Palestinians and Israelis.

In its coverage of the same issue, Al-Akhbar, another government-owned newspaper, leads with the headline, “Fierce campaigns are intensifying to distort Islam's image under the pretext of freedom of opinion and expression.”

During the speech, Mubarak reportedly referred to the issue of reform through establishing a “civil, modern state,” and stressed Egypt’s efforts in combating terrorism and extremism to protect reform and development. 

Mubarak concluded by citing the necessity of confronting over-population. The president described its negative impact on housing, transportation, health and educational services, as well as prices, saying that “it swallows the fruits of development.”

In other front-page news, Al-Ahram writes that the second round of Israeli-Palestinian direct negotiations will be held in Sharm al-Sheikh on 16 September.

According to the paper, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki announced that both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend the direct talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The first round of the series of peace talks between the two states took place in Washington on 2 September after an almost two-year hiatus. Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed to meet every two weeks in a bid to achieve a satisfactory solution for both parties within a year.

Both Al-Akhbar and Al-Shorouq give a hint as to the closure of the Rafah crossing on Egypt’s border with Gaza during Eid al-Fitr, due to the security officers going on leave. However, the crossing will be reopened on 14 September.

The Rafah crossing has not been closed since 1 June, when President Mubarak decided to open it for an indefinite period after Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. 

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

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouq: 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 el-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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