Tuesday’s papers: Tunisia’s events continue to reverberate in Egypt

Tunisia's uprising has the biggest share of Tuesday's headlines, which cover the latest political developments in the north African country and address the influence that those developments might have on Egypt.

State-run Al-Akhbar allocates most of its headlines to the Egyptian response. The paper quotes the speaker of parliament’s upper house Safwat al-Sherif asserting that "Egypt is stable and safe" before adding that President Hosni Mubarak is concerned with advancing social welfare to benefit the poorer people in the country. Al-Sherif's remarks came hours after a man set himself on fire Monday at 9 AM outside parliament in mimicry of 26-year-old Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi’s act which stirred the unprecedented Tunisian revolt.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit earlier ruled out the possibility of Tunisian-style revolutions in other Arab countries, saying fears of the uprising spreading were "nonsense." Al-Wafd, the paper of the liberal Wafd opposition party, writes that the Foreign Minister's words are "the real nonsense" because they represent Mubarak’s regime. The paper quotes former ambassador Adeil Safty as claiming that Egypt is now feeling the effects of the Tunisian revolt and that Egypt has all the necessary political and social motives to launch a similar uprising.

Al-Akhbar features a story about Abdou Abdel Monaam Hamadah, 49, who the paper labels as the "Egyptian Bouazizi," and reports that Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif received a report about Abdel Monaam's case. Safwat al-Sherif and Ahmad Fathi Sorour, speaker of the Egyptian People's Assembly, are highly concerned with the case, says the paper, which adds that Abdel Monaam suffers from psychological problems.

Abdel Monaam, according to media sources, was protesting against government corruption and nepotism. He is a restaurant owner in the city of Qantara and suffered from having insufficient quantities of subsidized bread to run his restaurant.

However, state-run Rose al-Youssef, comments negatively on Abdel Monaam's story, writing "Sandwiches seller manages to attract attention after setting himself on fire." The paper adds that what motivated Abdel Monaam was the "sensational coverage of Tunisia’s uprising.”

On the same page, a headline reads "Nine basic food commodities with reduced prices," while the accompanying story reports that the Nile Company for Consumer Outlets (NCCO) is planning to provide the market with nine basic commodities at reduced prices.

Egypt's state-run Al-Ahram continues speaking about measures adopted by the government to deter any Tunisia-inspired revolts. The paper features a story on its front page entitled, "Mubarak committed not to hoist other burdens on the poor," and says that Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) has received instructions from Mubarak to execute plans intended to ease levels of poverty in the country. The paper adds that Mubarak continually emphasizes his support for ordinary Egyptians and his support for distributing the fruits of development fairly.

Despite an economic growth rate of near six percent, many Egyptians complain that economic growth has failed to benefit ordinary Egyptians. Recent figures estimate that the number of Egyptians living below the poverty line in 2008 and 2009 amounted to 16.3 million.

Meanwhile, protests against high prices in Tunisia during the past four weeks led to the ousting of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali who ruled the country for 23 years. Jordan, Libya and Morocco have seen similar protests against high prices, especially for food.

Al-Akhbar dismisses the influence of the recent Tunisian riots on Egypt's stock market. Egyptian stocks and the Egyptian pound had fallen on investor fears that Tunisia's turmoil could spread. The stock market’s drop was its biggest in seven months while the Egyptian pound dipped to its weakest level against the dollar in almost six years.

As for the Tunisian developments, privately owned Al-Dostour features a headline reading "Who rules Tunisia?" in which the paper analyzes Tunisia’s main power brokers after the ousting of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. The paper argues that the army, the parliament and Islamists are the three main powers shaping Tunisia post Ben Ali.

Tunisia on Tuesday braced for further protests as its transition government unveiled unprecedented freedoms while leaving powerful posts in the hands of the old regime. Privately owned Al-Shorouk allocates four pages covering the Tunisian revolution. It addresses announcements of Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi on Monday in which he unveiled the new government, promised parliamentary and presidential elections within six months, and announced complete media freedom and the release of all political prisoners. Ghannouchi, one of eight ministers who stayed on from the previous government, said the ministers remaining, including the defense and interior ministers, had "acted to preserve the national interest." He also said that the exiled Islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi, who was sentenced to life in prison under the old regime, would only be able to return to Tunisia once an amnesty law had been approved.

Interior Minister Ahmed Friaa on Monday said 78 people were killed in the protests–a figure far higher than official Tunisian death tolls–and said losses to Tunisia’s economy so far incurred by the uprising amount to €1.6 billion, or US$2.2 billion.

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 al-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: 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 al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

Related Articles

Back to top button