Today’s papers: The president’s gallbladder

All newspapers report on President Hosni Mubarak’s successful gallbladder surgery yesterday at Germany’s Heidelberg University Hospital. The president allegedly experienced gall-bladder pains during his visit to Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Medical examinations revealed that the organ was severely inflamed.

Presidential powers were temporarily transferred to Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif on Friday, all papers report.

Al-Ahram features a tiny, inconspicuous column on its front page congratulating the president on his successful surgery and wishing him health.

The less timid Al-Akhbar boasts the archetypal portrait of a much younger Hosni Mubarak while reporting on the success of his operation. Its Chief Editor Mohamed Barakat poetically writes in an open letter to the president, “‘Thank God for your health Mr. President’ … these are the simple words spontaneously ringing on the tongues of people, stemming from the heart and sentiment of all Egyptians.”

Independent papers, along with opposition paper Al-Wafd, lead with a more factual report on the surgery. Al-Wafd notes that the prime minister, who was acting as president since Friday, made no changes to his schedule, taking the weekend off. Al-Shorouq and Al-Dostour elaborated on what gall-bladder surgery entails and confirmed that the president has regained consciousness and has talked to family members.

However, Al-Dostour, whose Chief Editor Ibrahim Eissa was given a two-month prison sentence in 2007 for publishing rumors about the president’s health, followed its coverage of the surgery with a column by Eissa commenting on the president’s conscience.

Wishing the president health and a speedy return home, Eissa then asks if Mubarak would now consider retiring. Eissa goes on to say that the president has a clear conscience, believing that he has taken Egypt out of the darkness into light, where happiness, freedom and stability reign.

“It couldn’t enter his head that Egypt is below the poverty line,” Eissa writes, also questioning the nature of Egyptian elections while ending: “How will we know if the people chose the president, if the most they can really choose is where to hang his picture … near the window, or above the fridge, or behind the chair?”

In other news, Al-Ahram reports on the Constitutional Court’s upcoming decision concerning women’s eligibility for judgeship of the State Council.

Some 150 women’s rights NGOs organized protests today in front of the ruling National Democratic Party’s headquarters in Cairo and other governorates, with support from the party’s Women’s Secretariat. The protesters are expressing their support for allowing women the freedom to work as judges without preconditions.

Al-Akhbar reports on construction projects in the Delta that are intended to protect against rising sea levels that threaten Alexandria and other coastal areas with submersion. The paper also reports on government investigations into the threat posed by climate change to the Delta, and provides details on a United Nations and European Union-funded project that aims to develop a barrier in the port city of Rashid to combat the effects of rising sea levels.

Finally, Al-Dostour covers several demonstrations at Egyptian universities yesterday, where students and professors protested against the Israeli police’s storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, as well as Israel’s recent inclusion of holy sites within the West Bank on its “national heritage list.” The protesters criticized Arab leaders for their silence, burned Israeli flags, and called for a declaration of war.

Egypt’s newspapers:

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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