By Safaa Abdoun
CAIRO: As online news portals and social networks are updated by the second with news of the protests around Egypt, local press coverage varied according to affiliation.
Rather than reporting on the mass protests that flooded the capital’s main square, Al-Ahram daily’s lead story reported on the current political turmoil in Lebanon and Minister of Industry’s, Rachid Mohamed Rachid, plans.
The paper highlighted Police Day celebrations, saying citizens handed out chocolates and flowers to police officers.
News of the protests also made the front page with a headline reading, “Massive demonstrations in Cairo and a number of governorates.” It reported the death of a police officer during the demonstrations and two young protesters in Suez. According to the newspaper, several thousand protesters took to the streets calling for job opportunities, control over inflation and more freedom and democracy.
The paper also ran the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hossam Zaki’s interview with CNN in which he commented on the demonstrations saying that they are “not a new phenomenon.”
Furthermore, he said that “All those people who took their demands to the streets today were actually protected by the police,” and expressed remorse over the police officer who was killed in the demonstrations.
The other leading state-owned newspaper Al-Akhbar had similar coverage with the headline “Demonstrations in some areas and calm in governorates,” adding that the majority of political parties boycotted the demonstrations while the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) penetrated the “peaceful” demonstrations to create chaos.
The paper explained that the Egyptian citizens’ awareness and their keenness for stability of their country overshadowed calls for demonstrations and anarchy. The paper also reported that police officers tried to maintain calm despite the stones thrown at them by protesters.
The paper also ran an interview with the National Democratic Party’s Secretary General and head of the Shura Council, Safwat El Sherif, who said that there is a difference between freedom of expression and chaos. “Everyone should be aware of the stability and security in Egypt every citizen is enjoying,” he said, warning against giving anyone the advantage of exploiting it.
State-owned Al- Gomhuriya newspaper blamed protesters with an article titled “Demonstrators hinder traffic and create chaos in Tahrir Square.” The article that said protestors in governorates were in dozens with a maximum of 3,000 in Cairo, also attributed the violence to MB members, claiming they were throwing bricks at police.
On the other hand, “Warning” led the front page of the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm in red font with pictures of the protests. The paper said Al-Wafd and the Democratic Front Parties joined the demonstrations while the Nasserist Party’s offices were closed as Police Day is an official holiday. Al-Tagammu Party didn’t participated, it added.