Today’s news: Sovereignty, patriotism is what we serve for dinner

The two leading state-run Arabic dailies Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar most of the time bear similar news, photos, if not identical headlines. Today is no different. Both papers highlighted President Mubarak’s meeting with the Saudi foreign minister in Sharm el-Sheikh, running a similar photo of the two, as well as highlighting government statements regarding LE11.2 billion investments in sanitation and the country’s infrastructure.

Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar, as expected, toed the government line in denouncing the Viva Palestina convoy which arrived in Arish airport yesterday and was banned access to Gaza by the Egyptian police. The two dailies accused the activists of "sabotaging the port… and creating a crisis out nothing," and saluted the "efforts of the Egyptian security to put the situation under control without the use of violence." Such claims were however refuted by eyewitnesses, including Al-Masry Al-Youm English Edition journalists who were present at the scene and witnessed bloody clashes between protesters and the police, instigated by the latter.

It seems the patriotism fever has also spilled over to some factions in the Egyptian opposition, like the Wafd Party, whose mouthpiece came out on the Al-Wafd paper front page with a headline in support of "Egypt’s right to protect its borders without anyone else’s permission." The paper also expressed relief at "the end of the Galloway crisis," and ran interviews with Egyptian officials who claimed the Viva Palestina activists wanted to "break Egypt’s will not the siege on Gaza."

And while the independent daily Al-Shorouq gave wide coverage to parliamentary news, government budget and the H1N1 vaccination campaign, the independent daily Al-Dostour, which tends to be highly critical of President Mubarak, devoted wide coverage to the impact of the ministerial cabinet, if any, and tackled a recently published US study on possible scenarios for the post-Mubarak era. Ibrahim Eissa, the paper’s dissident editor, instead of writing his daily editorial decided to publish excerpts from the new edition of his novel, The Death of the Big Man.The implicit message might seem obvious to the reader.

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