Sunday’s Papers: Referendum in Sudan and Big Brother in Alexandria

All Egyptian newspapers published front page headlines on Sunday’s Sudan referendum on the secession of the south. The event’s significance for Egypt, Africa and the US is reflected in Al-Ahram’s headlines: “Day of destiny in Sudan” and “Referendum today, celebrations in the south…calls for mourning in the north.”

Its sub-headlines say “Hillary [Clinton] in Juba,” and “(President Omar) Bashir calls for federation following secession.” According to street surveys conducted by the state-owned Egyptian daily in southern Sudan, the “majority” of southern Sudanese “support an independent state.”

The results of the referendum are due to be officially announced at the beginning of February.

A headline in the independent Nahdet Masr reads, “Sudan today: Unity or separation?” In the independent Al-Shorouk, “Today, southern Sudanese choose between one state or two… most likely the latter.” Sub-headlines read “Bashir calls for unity along the lines of the EU” and American think tank “Brookings advises Egypt, for the sake of its water interests, to play a central role in preventing the recurrence of [Sudanese civil] war.”

The independent Al-Dostour runs a more ominous headline: “Today, the conspiratorial referendum in Sudan begins.” The article does not indicate who the conspirators are. A sub-headline quotes former Egyptian ambassador and African affairs analyst Abdallah al-Ashaal: “The secession of southern Sudan threatens us… and Egypt’s response comes late.” Al-Ashaal believes that other Sudanese regions, including Darfur and Kordofan, may follow the south’s example and break away , Big Brother can directly monitor Egypt’s second largest city, Alexandria. A new system that began operatifrom Sudan.

In the opposition paper Al-Ahrar, a headline highlights southern victory: “Sudan… North is commiserating… South is celebrating.”

In other news, Big Brother can directly monitor Egypt’s second largest city, Alexandria. A new system that began operating on Saturday includes closed-circuit cameras across the city which feed into a central operations room. The new state policy follows the Alexandria church bombing on New Year’s Eve.

According to Al-Shorouk, the comprehensive surveillance system announces the “official commencement of the governorate’s operations room and surveillance cameras.”

The article claims that the Alexandria governorate funded the initiative and cameras have been installed outside churches, mosques, along main streets, and at city entrances–including toll stations on the governorate’s borders. According to Labib, the bomber who targeted the Church of St. Mark and St. Peter committed the crime one day before the cameras went into operation. Labib argues that “all the world’s states have begun to implement similar surveillance systems, and so we decided to implement this initiative in Alexandria.”

As for the ongoing investigations into the terrorist attack, a “parliamentary report confirms foreign involvement in the Alexandria bombing,” according to Al-Shorouk. In Al-Ahrar, “Medical forensics experts gather new evidence” from the scene. Al-Dostour mentions a “finger of an unidentified person located near the church.” In Nahdet Masr, sub-headlines explain, “For a second time, medical forensics investigate the crime scene today” and “Political forces apply pressure on Interior Ministry to quickly apprehend the culprit.”

News of popular unrest in Algeria and Tunisia–primarily due to unemployment, poverty, inflation and increases in food prices–also feature prominently in Egypt’s newspapers. Al-Ahram reads, “Casualties of anti-inflation protests in Algeria–3 dead and 200 injured.” Al-Shorouk headlines a lower body-count; “Second fatality in Algeria. Two additional suicide attempts in Tunisian protests.” In Al-Ahrar, the headline reads, “US Department of State summons Tunisian ambassador,” while Al-Dostour’s headline says, referring to a youth’s self-immolation and ensuing riots in a central Tunisian city, “Washington rebukes Tunisian ambassador over handling of Sidi Bouzid incidents.”

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