Thursday’s papers: Strikes continue despite being called ‘stubborn’

Continuing strikes and the state’s repossession of three privatized companies occupy Thursday's papers.

State-owned daily Al-Ahram announces on its front page that the government has a timetable for addressing workers’ demands. Finance Minister Hazem al-Beblawy warned strikers, though, that their “stubborn wishes that demands be met without consideration for the difficulties of the [transitional] period will have negative consequences for the budget, national production and public debt.”

“The judiciary returns three ‘lost’ companies to the arms of the state,’” privately owned Al-Shorouk reports, describing the Administrative Court’s ruling yesterday that the Shebeen al-Kom Spinning Company, Nasr Steam Boilers Company and Tanta Flax & Oil Company must be returned to the state because they were sold for less than their estimated value and because of sales irregularities since their privatization.

The sale of state-owned companies to private investors has largely been a sorry tale of deliberately impoverishing formerly flourishing companies with the aim of selling more land, resulting in thousands of workers being laid off.

The situation is equally bleak in the state sector, where teachers continue their strikes. While state-run Al-Gomhurriya describes the strikes as being at a “dead-end,” Al-Shorouk says that the strikes have spread despite government efforts to contain them, quoting a teachers’ organization as saying that 85 percent of teachers are taking part.

The joint police-army operation against street vendors in central Cairo is detailed in glowing terms by Al-Gomhurriya.

“The army and the police invade the Souq al-Tawfiqiya [Street Market] empire,” the state daily proclaims, above pictures of policemen and soldiers loading vendors’ property onto trucks.

“Citizens joined the police in their task in an expression of joy at the return of the street to normality, enabling pedestrians to walk freely without fear of thuggery from some street vendors,” the paper crows. Two days ago, authorities launched a crackdown on street vendors in Cairo. On Wednesday night, army soldiers moved in on street cafes in the Borsa area downtown, spurring anti-military protests in response.

Al-Dostour reports that remnants of the regime in Qena Governorate are “provoking unrest” between the area’s tribes. All former members of the now-dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP) – except one in Qena – have joined the newly-established Freedom Party, reports the independent daily.

According to Al-Dostour, Abdel Fatah Donqol – described as a close friend of senior former NDP members Ahmed Ezz and Gamal Mubarak – hosted a meeting under the banner “Arabs for Arabs.” This, the paper says, is revival of the divide-and-rule policy between Qena’s tribes that former President Hosni Mubarak relied on during parliamentary elections.

Al-Ahram reports that 80 people have been detained in connection with the breach of the Israeli Embassy and attack on the Giza Security Directorate by protesters on 9 September 2011, after previously arrested suspects gave police their names and addresses.

The individuals who “planned” the attack are expected to be arrested soon, Al-Ahram continues, adding that security forces are looking for a young woman described by other suspects as handing out cash in front of the Israeli Embassy and encouraging protesters to damage the building. Security forces are also hunting for the owners of a Mercedes and a Peugeot who were reportedly handing out cash as well.

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-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Youm7: Daily, privately owned

Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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

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