Tuesday’s Papers: Madinaty saga and Shehata controversy trudge on

Updates on the legal commission formed by the president to handle the repercussions of the latest Madinaty verdict dominate the front pages of Tuesday’s private, government-owned and opposition papers. While Al-Shorouk says the commission is expected to resolve the matter in a few days, Al-Dostour reports that authorities will announce the issue as settled within hours.

Last week the Supreme Administrative Court ruled on the nullification of the contract signed between the Ministry of Housing and the Talaat Mostafa Group (TMG), in which the latter was given thousands of feddans of land outside Cairo to build the Madinaty project. The verdict contended that the land had been awarded directly to the company with no open bidding–a clear violation of existing law. By virtue of the decision, TMG is stripped of project ownership.

The ruling has sent shock waves throughout Egyptian investment circles. Many observers speculate that if the issue is not resolved, real estate investment will be seriously affected. The assigned commission has promised to find a solution that will protect investors’ rights.

On its front-page, Al-Shorouk reveals exclusive news, saying that the prosecutor general has sent a letter to the government calling for the prosecution of former Housing Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Suleiman and all his aides involved in the signing of the contract with TMG.

Away from real estate, Al-Shorouk and Al-Dostour dedicate major front-page space to the Coptic Pope’s response to accusations that churches are brimming with weapons. These allegations were spawned by Islamist thinker Mohamed Salim Al-Awwa. According to the coverage, Pope Shenouda III was beseeched God to forgive those who make such claims. Yesterday, Al-Awwa said his words were misquoted and reported out of context.  

The press also prioritizes the Pope’s first public comments in response to the video of Kamillia Shehata. Al-Shorouk quotes the Pope as saying: “Kamillia’s video is genuine. She said she is Christian and the matter is over.” Earlier this month, state-owned television broadcasted a video of Shehata affirming she was Christian. Muslim activists recently alleged that Shehata attempted to convert to Islam but ended up detained by the church and forced to return to Christianity.

Besides real estate and religion, education takes up significant space in all papers, in light of the commencement of the school year for students across Egypt. State-owned Al-Ahram reviews a recent study saying that 66 percent of Egyptian students resort to private tutoring. The study, released by the National Center for Social and Criminal Studies, highlights the implications of this figure for the household economy, showing that 39 percent of sampled families confirmed that they spent half their income on private tutoring, while nearly 23 percent spend one-third.

In the meantime, the furor over the Education Minister’s decision to ban private academic books continues. While minister Ahmed Zaki Badr contends that students should rely only on the official curriculum as designed in state-published books, parents and students complain that such material is usually unavailable at the beginning of the year.

On another front, state-owned papers pay special attention to statements by the Foreign Ministry in response to accusations that Egypt is instigating strife among Lebanese factions. On its front page, Rose Al-Youssef says, “An inflammatory Egyptian statement against mercenaries in Lebanon.”

Yesterday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hossam Zaki, dismissed such charges as unfounded.  “These are spiteful and unfounded accusations by people paid to attack and insult Egypt,” Zaki told reporters. Former Lebanese General Security chief Jamil Al-Sayyed had reportedly accused an Egyptian diplomat of plotting to sow division among Lebanese. Al-Sayyed is expected to answer the charges of offending Egypt in a Lebanese court.

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-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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