Tuesday’s papers: Mubarak visits Paris, controversial thinker dies, Bedouins released

State-owned newspapers run with news of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak meeting French President Nicholas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Monday.

Al-Akhbar runs the headline “Mubarak discusses Middle East peace process with Sarkozy,” and quotes Mubarak as saying that it’s too early to submit the “frozen” Middle East issue to the UN Security Council unless indirect negotiations fail to reach any progress between Israel and Palestine. In a 45-minute meeting with his French counterpart, the Egyptian president mainly discussed bilateral ties between the two countries, the Palestinian question, and Middle East current affairs.

Al-Akhbar does not add anything substantial to this news but reports that holding an international peace conference was discussed during the meeting, and that both sides are willing to use the co-presidency of Mediterranean Union to give a push to the peace talks between Palestine and Israel.

Rose el-Youssef, another state-run newspaper, reports on Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s private visit Monday to Mubarak’s residence in Paris. Talks tackled the latest developments in the Middle East, especially recent events taking place in Lebanon.    

Al-Wafd does not pay attention to Mubarak’s visit, while Al-Dostour, an independent newspaper, points out this is the 65th visit the Egyptian president has paid to Paris since assuming office in 1981.

In other front-page news, state-owned and independent papers report the death of renowned Egyptian thinker Nasr Hamed Abu Zaid in Cairo at 67.

Al-Ahram writes that Abu Zaid died from an unknown disease. He was accused of apostacy by extremists due to controversial research on the Quran. His opponents also filed a lawsuit to force him to divorce his Muslim wife, since an apostate is not permitted to be married to a Muslim woman, according to Islamic law. This pushed Abu Zaid to seek exile in the Netherlands, teaching at the Islamic Studies Department at Leiden University. He flew back to Egypt when he felt it was safe to resettle. The newspaper notes that no officials attended the funeral, only family members.     

Reporting on the same case, Al-Dostour allocates an entire page to Abu Zaid, looking at his views and thoughts on Islam. Al-Sharouq meanwhile sheds light on the long-term conflict between Abu Zaid and Abdel Sabour Shahin, former professor of Arabic linguistics and a committee member at Cairo University, with a headline reading “Fear of the mind.”

Al-Ahram and Rose el-Youssef share the same headlines. “The law should take its course” said Gamal Mubarak during a meeting with members of the youth committee and the youth and women’s secretariats of the National Democratic Party. Al-Ahram writes that Mubarak Junior, assistant general secretary of the NDP, said that fighting corruption and respecting human rights are priorities of the NDP’s election platform, that the party rejects any violations of citizen rights, and that “this applies to the case of Khaled Saeed in Alexandria.”

Al-Sharouq is the only paper to report on the release of 16 Beduoins according to an agreement between the Interior Ministry one side, and Sinai tribal leaders and MPs on the other.

A security source told Al-Shorouq that the Interior Minister will soon relocate some of the pardoned Bedouins to other prisons closer to their places of residence. Some of the Bedouin leaders held a conference in Arish to thank the Interior Minister and put together a petition requesting the release of family members who are still in prison.

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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