Thursday’s papers: Al-Azhar democratic charter makes waves, papers claim credit for ending SCAF poll

The meeting between several declared and potential presidential candidates and political parties at Al-Azhar on Wednesday dominates much of Thursday's press.

The meeting, attended by Amr Moussa, Hazem Abu Ismail and Hamdeen Sabbahi, among others, examined ways to make Al-Azhar's recently declared charter of fundamental principles for Egypt's prospective government effective.

Declared candidate Mohamed ElBaradei has publicly endorsed the charter, and is among several figures who have paid recent visits to Al-Azhar, which is currently searching for an independent identity after decades of control by former President Hosni Mubarak's regime.

Recently founded independent paper Al-Tahrir, however, reports that some political forces have rejected Al-Azhar's charter. Dozens of members of the Coalition for the Resurgence of Al-Azhar organized a protest against the charter, because it “founds a secular, atheist state that bears no relation to Islam or Arab identity and only represents those who discussed it."

During a meeting with various political groups also on Wednesday, member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and military Chief of Staff Sami Annan warned that there are “foreign powers lying in wait for Egypt and trying to interfere in its affairs," state-owned Al-Ahram reports. Annan is reported to have added that the military remains committed to handing the country over to civilian rule.

Egypt faces four main challenges, Annan is reported as saying: maintenance of security, the economic situation, the media and sectarian unrest.

Both Al-Masry Al-Youm's Arabic Edition and newcomer Al-Tahrir are claiming credit for SCAF's removal of its Facebook opinion poll on potential presidential candidates. The papers write that the poll was removed after they reported that former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman’s votes suddenly doubled, a result of suspected electronic foul play.

Independent Al-Shorouk quotes Elections Commission head Abdel Moaz Ibrahim as saying that electoral registers will be displayed in police stations from 20 to 31 August, and that complaints about the registers will be accepted from 20 August to 15 September.

In previous elections, opposition parties alleged that the then-ruling National Democratic Party manipulated electoral registers in their favor using tactics including registering deceased voters.

According to Al-Shorouk, Ibrahim said that there will be no change on the issue of Egyptians voting abroad – a long-standing demand of Egyptian expats – and that those wishing to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections “are welcome to do so in Egypt."

Amid continued speculation about the true amount of public support for Islamist parties, Al-Shorouk publishes comments by an anonymous high-ranking member of the Brotherhood, saying that the group will restrict the number of its members who join the parliamentary committee slated to draft the new constitution after the elections – regardless of the number of seats the Freedom and Justice Party wins.         

The leftist party paper Al-Wafd runs a terrifying report on the security situation in Egypt. Its headline declares that “armed gangs are imposing the law of the jungle," that armed militias roam Cairo, and that “terrible crimes” have been committed in Sharqiya Governorate.

Also in Al-Wafd, Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomaa is quoted as saying that he tried to telephone Mubarak on 28 January 2011, to “stop him killing protesters … and his men in the Heliopolis Palace prevented me."

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

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