The fallout from the Maspero events continues in today’s papers as people try to come to terms with how the military opened fire and ran over Coptic protesters in front of the state TV building Sunday.
Not that you would see that version of events in the local Arabic press today; it's the elephant in the newsroom that will not be named.
State-owned Al-Ahram leads with the Justice Ministry's formation of an investigative committee that will begin its work in Aswan at the scene of an attack last month on an Edfu church that sparked the Maspero marches.
However, the newspaper takes the prize for sycophantic delusion with its front-page editorial that begins: “Scenes that broke the heart and made eyes tear. This was not our Egypt that witnessed some of our children pelt our brothers and friends from the military and police with rocks and set fire to the equipment of their country’s military.”
In an impressive display of mental gymnastics, it goes on to infer that those very same people are also the ones who shot and mowed down protesters. It then lays the blame for the violence on both everyone who was there and wasn’t there, adding in “meddling hands” for good measure.
In its extensive coverage of the aftermath of the Maspero events, privately owned Al-Tahrir reports on Facebook and Twitter feeds from friends of Mina Daniel, a Coptic activist who died after being shot in the chest, during his funeral. The funeral processesion went from the cathedral in Abbasseya to Tahrir Square, fulfilling Daniel's final wish that it pass through the square where he spent most of the year participating in attempts to change Egypt.
Al-Tahrir used quotes from Twitter and Facebook to describe what Daniel's mother said as she passed through Tahrir. The paper says she looked up at the sky, saying she could see him there smiling and, appearing to address him, she said, “Don’t worry, I am strong and happy, because you are happy, because you wanted to die a martyr for Egypt, and now you are one.” She also said, “Will you remain thirsty for blood, Egypt? When will you have your fill of your children’s blood?”
Ibrahim Eissa writes in his column for the same newspaper that the generals of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) must relieve themselves of the “Mubarak ideology that is clearly entrenched in their actions. It is the ideology that refuses change and maintains stagnation, considering it stability.” Eissa contends that the staid and archaic approach of the council is a wrong fit for the country in these times of great change after 25 January.
Amr Khafagy, in the privately owned Al-Shorouk, lays the blame for the Maspero events squarely on Prime Minister Essam Sharaf's government.
“Sharaf’s government is the government of failure,” he writes, going on to say that a strong and capable government is needed in the transition period. He asks presidential candidates Amr Moussa and Mohamed ElBaradei to give up their ambitions and take on the post of prime minister and help guide the country. He doesn’t mention that legally, the powers of the executive branch still lie with the SCAF.
Opposition daily Al-Wafd leads with a similar sentiment, a blaring headline calling for a new government – again sidestepping the SCAF's responsibility for the events as many other media outlets have. However, the paper’s front page shows a picture of a young female protester holding a poster with a picture of Daniel that reads “Down with the rule of the military." It also reports that human rights groups are calling for an independent inquiry into the events, but to address the “lowly conspiracy against Egypt and abort sectarian strife” rather than to ascertain the truth and who was responsible for the murder of at least 25 people, it seems.
State-owned Al-Akhbar reports on the forensic reports for 23 of the victims and states that two-thirds were killed by bullets, while the rest were run over with military vehicles. But, like Al-Shorouk, Al-Akhbar points out that these are the initial reports for the purpose of burying the bodies, not the final forensic reports. One body was neither run over nor shot, but struck on the head with a sharp object – a sword, according to eyewitnesses.
Finally, Al-Shorouk reports on the “martyr by chance,” Ahmed Adel, who was killed by a stray bullet as he was driving past Maspero at the time of the violence. The newspaper reports he was killed at 2 am, although the violence was at its worst much earlier in the evening around 6 pm. His family demanded an investigation, alleging that the whoever shot the Coptic protesters also killed Adel.
In addition, all newspapers report on Finance Minister Hazem al-Beblawy's resignation submitted to the SCAF. They also say Prime Minister Essam Sharaf had submitted his own resignation.
Al-Akhbar writes that the SCAF had rejected Beblawy's resignation, while Al-Ahram says Beblawy will attend today's cabinet meeting in spite of the resignation.
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
Youm7: Daily, privately owned
Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned
Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned
Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party