The National Democratic Party dominated the headlines in both Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar, with details of yesterday’s party conference making up the bulk of the reports. “We believe in democracy and freedom,” Secretary General Safwat el-Sherif was quoted as saying in Al-Akhbar, before proceeding to remind everyone present that President Mubarak had rightfully won the last round of elections, which were transparent and fair. El-Sherif also reiterated the NDP’s support for other political parties, stating, “True democracy can only stem from a multitude of voices and real diversity.”
Gamal Mubarak, who was also present as assistant secretary general of the NDP, announced, “There are no heirs to the government and the constitution, according to its most recent amendments, will not allow anyone or any party to impose himself as a ruler over the Egyptian people against their will.”
Al-Ahram focused more on the details of the conference, which outlined the NDP’s plans for the upcoming parliamentary elections and how certain measures, such as a universal health insurance program and retirement and pension programs, would be implemented. Al-Ahram also quoted el-Sherif as saying “There will be no adjustments or changes made to the constitution prior to the upcoming elections. The elections will be held according to the current constitution.” Gamal Mubarak added, “The coming six months will see a massive follow-up on the implementation of several economic, social, and political initiatives.”
Both Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar ran a paragraph on the three-day opening of the Egypt-Rafah border, which Al-Ahram called “an effort by the Egyptian authorities to relieve the Palestinian people of their burdens.” Al-Akhbar also mentioned a Nigerian man’s failed attempt to blow up a commercial airplane bound for Detroit.
Al-Ahram gave more space to the other major story on the papers’ front pages: riots in Iran. The Iranian government has declared a three-day period of emergency law in response to the sudden outbreak of riots following Ayatollah Hussein Montazeri’s death several days ago. According to Iranian bloggers, the Revolutionary Guard has been extremely violent in dealing with rioters, often using a variety of tear gases to quell chants of "Death to the Dictator!"
Al-Akhbar attributed the Revolutionary Guard’s storming of a student-run news agency to the day being Ashura, a Shia holiday commemorating the death of Imam Hussein. Al-Dostour mentioned Montazeri’s death while reporting that Egyptian Shia would not be hold mourning councils for the ayatollah, out of fear of attacks from Wahabis and Salafis.
Also on Al-Dostour’s front page was news of the Workers Union calling on President Mubarak to run for another term, and blaming “invisible hands” for nominating “unsuitable names.” Union leader Hussein Mogawer and Minister of Manpower and Immigration Aisha Abdel Hady also confirmed their full support of the wall at Rafah, citing it as a “matter of national security.” Abdel Hady was quoted as saying “Does it make sense to leave those borders open for people to come and go as they please?”
Al-Dostour also carried news on the latest sighting of the Virgin Mary, which allegedly appeared in ten different locations around Cairo last Tuesday. The phenomenon, which has been causing a stir over the past few days was explained by Al-Koms Abdel Messih Baseet, a professor at the Clerical University. “The Virgin Mary cannot appear in several places at once, as many simple-minded people have claimed, because there is only one Virgin Mary," Al-Dostour quoted Baseet as saying. "She can, however, move as fast as lightning, making it only seem like she is in several places at once.”
News of the Egyptian police gunning down 14 young men as they attempted to cross the border into Libya also made headlines in Al-Dostour. Thirty-one men, who sneaked out of the small border villages of Maghagha and Beni Mazar, were spotted by Egyptian police forces. Al-Dostour describes the police as opening fire, slaying 14, and arresting 11. The remaining six escaped into Libya.
None of these stories were covered in Al-Wafd, which was more interested in the wall between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, particularly shipping details for materials required to build the wall. An image of the order form was displayed prominently on the paper’s front page, on which could be seen the logo for Russian steel company Evraz, which will supply the 16 tons of steel required, according to Al-Wafd.
Al-Wafd also ran news on the swine flu vaccinations, which apparently cause paralysis of the nervous system. According to Dr. Sadek Abdel Aal, council to the former Minister of Health, the vaccinations that the government intends to give schoolchildren have been known to cause severe neurological conditions in the United States during the 1970s. “The side-effects only become evident after several years,” warned Abdel Aal.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood has reported that it will not give in to pressure from the media to grant interviews. Al-Wafd said group members fear having their own words used against them. The paper also wrote that internal conflict within the Brotherhood has reached a boiling point, which might be the reason behind their increasing paranoia.
The bottom corner of Al-Wafd’s front page featured an early campaign poster for Gamal Mubarak, who appears to have gained the endorsement of the president. The poster was seen hanging from a balcony in Ezbet el-Hagana, an area currently under threat of demolition.
Al-Shorouq went in a completely different direction, leading with a story on Egypt’s preparations for the development of a nuclear power program. The plan, which is still in its earliest stages, will be based on a report to be presented to President Mubarak in early January. A global bidding process will be held in February 2011 to determine a company to implement the plan.