Tuesday’s papers: Constituent assembly under attack

A day before the 100-member committee elected by Parliament begins drafting the nation’s new constitution, political upheaval continues as clashes escalate across the political spectrum in the light of this sensitive step in the rebuilding of the state.

The Muslim Brotherhood threatens to escalate its first public dispute with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces since the generals came to power, while other political forces continue to protest the formation of the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly.

After refusing to join protesters in the streets since the election of Parliament, the Brotherhood announces in its Freedom and Justice newspaper a renewed faith in demonstrations, triggered by its recent fallout with the military council.

This week, the honeymoon between the ruling junta and the country’s strongest political faction ended when the Brotherhood issued a statement criticizing SCAF for refusing to sack the interim cabinet of Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri. The statement also questioned the legitimacy of the upcoming presidential election. The military council responded in equally aggressive language, urging “one of the political forces” to learn from the past.

In the same newspaper in which the Brotherhood launched attacks against street activity over the last few months — often declaring that the legitimacy of Parliament had replaced the street — the Brotherhood announced on Tuesday: “The people return to the streets and million-man protests are the solution.”

The paper launches a severe attack against the government, quoting labor leaders as saying it is confused and incompetent, and that “going against the Parliament is its biggest sin.”

A different headline in the paper indicates another shift in the party’s position. After vowing for months that it will not field a presidential candidate and sacking leading member Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh for running against this decision, the Freedom and Justice paper announces that the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau is reconvening to discuss its position regarding the presidential election, stressing that all options are on the table.

Independent Al-Shorouk quotes Brotherhood members as saying the group has already decided to field a presidential candidate. Freedom and Justice Party MP Mohamed Emad Eddin tells the paper the Brotherhood is now choosing between People’s Assembly Speaker Saad al-Katatny, FJP President Mohamed Morsy and Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater.

Al-Shorouk also reports on the widespread rejection of the constitution under construction, based on the withdrawal of 18 members of the committee in protest of its formation. According to the paper, 14 political groups have started a group called “Constitution for All Egyptians Front.”

Al-Ahram newspaper’s headline reads: “Protests and withdrawals threaten the legitimacy of the constituent assembly.” The state-owned paper reports that the Administrative Court will start reviewing cases being filed against the assembly’s legitimacy.

Despite the public fallout, independent newspaper Al-Tahrir reports that SCAF head Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi is trying to save the Brotherhood and its constitution. The paper says Tantawi is meeting with a number of political powers to understand their demands on the constitution in an attempt to absorb their anger.

The paper adds that the forces will demand the constituent assembly be re-elected from outside Parliament and that the elected assembly be dissolved by the end of their meeting with Tantawi.

Columnist Moataz Abdel Fattah sees the events of the last week as a shift in Egypt’s political dynamics.

In his column in Al-Shorouk Tuesday, Abdel Fattah splits Egypt’s political forces into four categories: the ruling military council, the Islamists, the liberal and leftist forces, and the youth of the revolution.

After the general belief for months that the former two were conspiring against the latter two, Abdel Fattah says the recent fallout between the Brotherhood and the military may indicate a new tripartite alliance against the country’s ascendant Islamist forces.

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

Freedom and Justice: Daily, published by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Nasserist Party

Al-Nour: Official paper of the Salafi Nour Party

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