Monday’s papers: Celebrations of the ‘Flagman’ and other coverage of the situation with Israel

All of a sudden, the heated debate on the supra-constitutional principles, which has recently stirred feuds between political forces, became overshadowed in the local press this week by reactions to the Israeli attack inside Egyptian borders that left five Egyptian guards killed on Thursday.

All Monday’s papers focus on the Egyptian outrage that ensued. Most privately-owned papers celebrate the story of the young man who climbed the building where the Israeli Embassy is located to take down and burn the Israeli flag. Al-Tahrir hails "flagman" Ahmed al-Shehat as a hero and as Egypt’s Spiderman. On its front page the paper carries a picture of Shehat being carried in joy by protesters rallying outside the embassy in Giza.

“Thousands of youth continued protesting there to denounce Israeli crimes committed against Egyptian soldiers in Sinai,” reads Al-Tahrir. “One of the protesters was a young man from Sharqiya Governorate. He was not politicized but he noticed that people were trying to bring down the Israeli flag. After thinking about it for so long, the 24-year-old man climbed the 22-story building – thanks to his physical fitness – to take down the Israeli flag and plant the Egyptian flag in its place.”

Al-Shorouk daily likewise celebrates the incident. On its front page lies a large picture of Shehat waving the Egyptian flag from top of the Israeli Embassy building. The paper leads with a quote from the new hero saying: “My message to those who want to kill us is leave our country,” in reference to the Israeli diplomatic mission in Cairo.

Prominent journalist Ibrahim Eissa offers a different reading of the incident that goes beyond mere celebration. In his column in Al-Tahrir, Eissa says: “In the midst of this emotional influx that mixes joy with hatred, we have to be cautious that what this young man did is only a symbolic act and nothing more. … Climbing and bringing down and burning the flag is a right way to vent anger … but it is not an objective in itself, nor a heroic act nor a national achievement. Actually, it is a violation of international custom and international law.” 

The state-owned press does not rejoice with the same fervor. Unlike privately-owned newspapers, Al-Ahram does not run the story on its front page but sends it back to the sixth page. Al-Akhbar has a small picture of Shehat and runs a couple of small headlines about the incident toward the bottom of its front page.

Both papers lead with another story. They highlight the meeting of a ministerial commission held on Sunday to look into recent developments pertaining to the Israeli attack. Both have similar headlines. “Egypt demands a clear deadline for the investigation into the Israeli crime,” reads Al-Ahram's headline. The ministerial commission affirmed Egypt’s commitment to safeguarding the peace treaty with Israel but demanded that Israel fulfill its responsibility vis-à-vis the treaty, says Al-Ahram. The government also welcomed the Israeli decision to hold joint investigation into the killing of Egyptian guards but insisted on specifying a deadline for its conclusion, Al-Ahram continues.

The privately-owned Youm7 runs an almost full-page expose about the future of the Egyptian-Israeli peace accords. The report raises the question of whether Egypt can revoke Camp David accords unilaterally. “A reading into the coulisse of the infamous treaty,” reads the subheadline of the report. The piece is based on interviews with experts, who conclude that the abrogation of the peace treaty requires “the existence of a strong national regime that is aware of the country’s interests and capable of bearing all the repercussions that might include engaging in a war against Israel."

“This requires that we assess [our] military capabilities to see whether we can enter into such a war independently from any foreign power. Egypt should also become economically and politically independent from the American hegemony. The situation would also require that Sinai be populated by a human force that can fend off any attack,” concludes the report.

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-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run

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

Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned

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