Egypt’s media: Gamal Mubarak for president?

Newspapers express incredulity over acquittals, while one commentator jokes Mubarak’s son could now run for top office.

Egyptian newspapers react to Mubarak verdict
Journalists drew connection between the Mubarak verdict, renewed protests, and the upcoming election [AFP]

The verdict in former president Hosni Mubarak’s trial dominated newspaper headlines on Sunday, but there was also extensive coverage of the renewed protests in Tahrir Square and the upcoming presidential runoff – with many journalists and columnists connecting all three issues.

The state-owned Al-Ahram, Egypt’s largest-circulation newspaper, noted the “official silence” from other Arab countries following the verdict.

“On the Arab street, there was division,” the paper reported, with the strongest support on social media coming from countries such as Tunisia and Yemen, which have experienced their own revolutions.

Much of the commentary in Al-Ahram dealt with the upcoming runoff election, rather than the verdict.

One column, by Taha Abdel Alim, argued that the Muslim Brotherhood’s popularity was “eroding,” and that the former regime (in the person of Ahmed Shafiq) was regaining its support, an argument which perhaps feels a bit dated given the outcry over yesterday’s verdict.

The privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that Essam Sultan, the head of the moderate Islamist Wasat party, had asked Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for president, and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, the fourth-place finisher in last month’s election, to meet in parliament on Sunday.

He wants the two to consider forming a “presidential council,” a proposal that’s been floated by several other leading politicians.

Columnists in Al-Masry Al-Youm expressed incredulity about the verdict.

“Habib al-Adly killed the martyrs by himself, without the assistance of his aides?” asked Mohammed Amin.

Al-Adly, the longtime interior minister, was convicted of complicity in the killing of hundreds of protesters, but six senior aides were acquitted. Amin also joked that Gamal Mubarak, the former president’s son, could be the next president, since he was acquitted of corruption charges.

Another columnist, Alaa el-Din Abdel Moneim, expressed the frustration of Egypt’s revolutionaries. He was harshly critical of the Muslim Brotherhood, which last night tried to win revolutionary support by endorsing the protests in Tahrir Square.

“They betrayed the revolution,” Moneim wrote of the Brotherhood. “It abandoned them in Tahrir Square after November 19… it abandoned them in the events at the cabinet,” referring to two high-profile clashes with security forces last year.

El-Tahrir also wrote extensively on the idea of a presidential council. It criticised both the life sentences for Mubarak and al-Adly – referred to as “Pharaoh and Haman” – and the acquittals for al-Adly’s aides.

“The transition failed,” the paper proclaims darkly, calling for a presidential council to replace the runoff. “[SCAF] plans to hand over power either to a current that will return the civil state to the Middle Ages, or hand it over to a system that will revive the spirit of the [old] rule.”

El-Shorouk reported that the former president would be required to wear a blue jumpsuit in Tora prison, just like the other prisoners. It said Mubarak was surprised to learn he would be going to Tora, not back to the hospital where he’s been held since last year.

“Mubarak did not know that the helicopter would take him from the police academy to Tora prison,” the paper reported. “He became very nervous, went into shock, and refused to leave [the helicopter] for more than two hours.”

An op-ed by Wael Kandil urged Egyptians not to vote against the revolution in the runoff. He acknowledged that the Muslim Brotherhood had not fully supported the revolution, and urged people to “hold it accountable,” but argued that all Egyptians should unite to fight against the old regime.

“The camels which charged Tahrir square on February 2 did not distinguish between the bearded and the clean-shaven,” he wrote.

Source: Al Jazeera