Sunday’s papers: Fears of sedition, the military’s laxity, Mubarak’s trial

“Threats of counterrevolution,” “The greatest sedition,” “The remnants of the old regime” are catchphrases that stand out on the front pages of most newspapers. Coverage of the bloody confrontation that took place between the army and protesters before dawn on Saturday, leaving at least one killed and dozens injured, takes the lion’s share of space. While most papers dismiss the weekend’s violence as an imminent threat to the revolution’s achievements, their insights into what the situation requires is quite nuanced.

Most state-owned news outlets are content to warn against attempts aimed at “driving a wedge” between the people and the military. Most of them put the blame for the unprecedented standoff — in which live ammunition was reportedly fired — on “the remnants” of ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

“The 25 January revolution stands on two feet: the people and the army. If they lose balance, the revolution will fall and counterrevolutionary forces consisting of the corrupt remnants of the old regime will obliterate it once and for all,” writes Yasser Rizk, editor in chief of Al-Akhbar daily.

Rizk’s column, which takes up half a page, elaborately defends the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). The writer holds that no SCAF members — including its head Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi — have personal ambitions for power. 

“On the contrary, they [are] all concerned about people’s interests and the future of the country,” writes Risk.

Rizk confidently affirms that the military will hold trials for all corrupt leaders of the former regime including Mubarak himself. In recent weeks, SCAF has come under criticism due to its failure, up until now, to take action against Mubarak and his family despite reports about their illicit financial gains. The military also seems reluctant to try iconic figures of Mubarak’s regime, including former Shura Council Speaker Safwat al-Sherif, former People’s Assembly Speaker Fathi Sorour and Presidential Chief of Staff Zakaria Azmy. Azmy was arrested only last week.

On the other hand, the privately-owned daily Al-Shorouk offers a more sophisticated reading of the situation and refrains from taking the military’s side. In his column, managing editor Wael Qandil writes: “It was “the darkest night in Tahrir Square. What happened at dawn on Saturday lies as the most serious threat to the revolution… It shows that all parties have lost control and have become very volatile and things may explode at any time.” Qandil directs his outrage at the military, wondering why SCAF is not rushing to try stalwarts of Mubarak’s regime, dismantle the formerly ruling National Democratic Party, and abrogate the state of emergency. He goes on to reiterate an earlier demand voiced by many political forces — that the military share power with a temporary civilian presidential council.

“What happened shows that there is a problem in the way the revolution is being managed. Therefore, SCAF should see no shame in calling upon heavy-weight politicians with strong expertise in crisis management to develop a national program that can ensure a safe transition,” says Qandil.

Addressing possible ways of moving forward, the liberal daily Wafd contends that Mubarak must stand trial. On the front page, Editor In Chief Osama Heikal sends a clear message to the military: “It is impossible to oust the president in 18 days and spend 60 days thinking of whether to try him. The situation cannot be handled with painkillers … The president’s wealth is a crucial issue that needs to be investigated and there is no way to do that without a fair trial… so why the slowness?”

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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