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Monday's papers: Brotherhood battle with Cabinet and Abbasseya aftermath

By-Almasry Alyoum | 8 May 2012

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi's meeting with a parliamentary delegation, the Egypt-Saudi Arabia diplomatic crisis, the clashes in Abbasseya neighborhood, and the upcoming presidential race are the main topics discussed in Monday's newspapers.

Privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper heads with "The Brotherhood loses the battle with Ganzouri." The accompanying story stating that the two-month struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military over the Cabinet has ended, with Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri and the Cabinet remaining as it is with no change. 
 
Brotherhood MPs — who hold a parliamentary plurality — had called for a ministerial reshuffle over the group's dissatisfaction with the Cabinet's performance, threatening to issue a no-confidence vote.
 
Meanwhile, Brotherhood-run newspaper Freedom and Justice and state-run Al-Akhbar run very similar stories concerning the meeting, saying the military acknowledges Parliament's right to form the assembly tasked with writing the new constitution. The stories claim there will be a meeting in a few days to solve the crisis. Al-Akhbar says the topics discussed in yesterday's meeting included several scenarios concerning the Cabinet, including its dismissal, the ministers' resignations and changes within it.
 
Newspapers also address the crisis between Saudi Arabia and Egypt after Saudi authorities arrested an Egyptian lawyer known for his criticism of the kingdom. Al-Akhbar paints a rosy picture, describing the Egyptian delegation visit to the Saudi foreign minister and saying it was reassured by Saudi Arabia's love for Egypt. Saudi Ambassador to Egypt Ahmed al-Qattan is quoted as saying that more contracts have been signed for Egyptians to work in Saudi Arabia, and that more than 2,680 visas were granted in one day. Qattan also expressed his "sadness" over the need for security at the embassy, stating that Egypt should focus on its economy and development.
 
On page three, Al-Akhbar columnist Gamal al-Ghaitany writes in an opinion piece called "The Insult" how the whole visit was a joke and that the delegation of people, who were supposed to be representatives of Parliament, were more representative of their Brotherhood affiliation.
 
Al-Shorouk quotes Qattan saying that shutting down the embassy was a move to safeguard Saudi-Egyptian relations.
 
Moving on to last week's violence in Abbasseya — where protesters' clashes with the military led to many casualties, several deaths and a large number of arrests — Freedom and Justice dedicates a two-page spread to the issue under the headline "The aftermath of the Abbasseya earthquake."
 
The spread features articles on Abbasseya hospitals being condemned for their poor performance during the clashes. Al-Azhar condemns the military's attack on the mosque, its terrorizing of worshippers and its disrespect for the sanctity of the mosque by walking in with their shoes and guns.
 
Freedom and Justice also has an eyewitness account by journalists from Egypt 25 news channel on their arrest by soldiers, who they say took their personal belongings. One soldier said, "I like this ring," and took it from the journalist, according to the paper. Others journalists said military personnel stole their phones and directed stones, bullets and profanity at them after dragging them from the mosque.
 
Opposition Al-Wafd, run by the party of the same name, describes arguments in Parliament over the clashes, saying, "FJP lead a brutal campaign against the military and, Al-Wafd rejects insults to the armed forces."
 
Al-Shorouk also dedicated a spread to the Abbasseya clashes, with two opposing accounts on the events on Friday. One account was from a military source who describes the military as upholding complete restraint. He denies any use of firearms from the military, saying that if that happened, the events would have turned into a disaster.
 
The military source claims recitations of the Quran were turned on to calm the soldiers down, and then patriotic songs were played to lift their morale as they were being targeted with stones and profanity. He states that later in the day, gunmen from on top of Al-Nour Mosque attacked the military, which was when the soldiers took off their shoes at the mosque door, entered calmly and arrested only those with weapons.
 
The paper publishes an account from a protester, Abdu Qassem, who says protesters were peaceful before prayer. When more people started joining, one man jumped across the barbed wire protecting the Defense Ministry, and soldiers beat him up, Qassem said. Stones began to fly on both sides, and after that, the army started to spray water —Qassem said it smelled funny and burned protesters' skin. By 5 pm, the army was advancing by removing the barbed wire and the metal barricade that the protesters had built, and started running toward the protesters, leading to many people getting trampled on. Qassem says gunfire was then shot, and he saw the person in front of him die after being shot in the head.
 
Privately owned Al-Watan also mostly focuses on Friday's clashes in Abbasseya. The paper goes into the political implications of the clashes and publishes hints by officials that the presidential election should be postponed. Al-Watan quotes presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq as saying that the only people who would gain from a postponement are Islamists and the army.
 
Al-Watan also quotes Khaled Saeed, spokesperson of the Salafi Front political group, as saying that postponing the elections would cause violent reactions to grow.
 
Al-Watan runs a special series on the candidate's wives, with Monday featuring Amany al-Ashmawy, Islamist candidate Mohamed Selim al-Awa's wife. The feature talks about Ashmawy’s background as a children's book writer and her life with Awa, putting a human side to him, saying, "he washes the dishes and chooses his own clothes." Ashmawy believes the title first lady is not one she is seeking, saying people are not choosing her, they are choosing her husband.
 
Freedom and Justice, in true party propaganda, dedicates its newspaper to the promotion of its party's role in parliamentary achievements in various fields. Every achievement listed has only Freedom and Justice Party members, omitting any mention of other delegate's names. The paper then moves on to promoting the group's "Renaissance Project," then rather unsubtly promotes party candidate Mohamed Morsy's role in that project. It dedicates half of a page to Coptic thinker Gamal Asaad's statements that "Dr. Morsy is a man of principle and the Brotherhood is a group aiming to spread goodness."
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