Those who have followed Egyptian national newspapers in the past ten days can easily sense their dominant spirit. It is similar to what prevailed before President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, especially during the 18 days of the revolution. During that period, the national newspapers launched sharp attacks on the Muslim Brotherhood and its members. They held the Brotherhood responsible for the security chaos and the turmoil in the country, leveling several charges against them. This approach is reminiscent of that era. It seems that there is a general tendency to re-label the group as “banned.”
During the last ten days, national newspapers have focused on statements made by presidential candidate Lieutenant General Ahmed Shafiq, especially those related to the Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement in the “Battle of the Camel” [at Tahrir Square]. Some newspapers even dealt with the issue and Shafiq’s statements as an unquestionable truth.
Al-Ahram is the newspaper that attacked the Muslim Brotherhood the most. The newspaper published many related topics, including comments made by experts on Dr. Mohammed Morsi's statements. Morsi is the presidential candidate from the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which is the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al-Ahram was also very interested in Shafiq's statements, particularly concerning the "Battle of the Camel," where the Brotherhood was said to be involved in killing protesters. This incident made the headlines of Al-Ahram. In its June 10, 2012 issue, the newspaper attached great importance to the news that Shafiq, General Hassan Ruwaini and broadcaster Tawfiq Okasha were summoned to testify before the court in the case of the "Battle of the Camel." The newspaper published the story on its front and third pages, including an opinion poll for the experts concerned with the case.
On the other hand, the newspaper Rose al-Yusuf was very interested in politics during the pre-revolution phase, before the fall of Mubarak. The newspaper carried out a scathing attack on the Muslim Brotherhood, accusing it of corrupting the political life in Egypt and seeking to control the reins of power in the country. The Rose al-Yusuf Establishment [the publisher of the daily Rose al-Yusuf newspaper] publishes a weekly magazine that investigates a large number of topics, and its attacks have been clear and straightforward. It has launched scathing attacks on parliament and accused the Brotherhood of corruption and political opportunism. These attacks have been especially prevalent in its issues over the past two weeks. However, it is clear that the newspaper had a bias in favor of Shafiq.
The attacks on the Muslim Brotherhood were not limited to newspapers alone. They also involved the Middle East News Agency, which sought to spread political propaganda in support of Shafiq. The Agency continued to broadcast Shafiq's interview on the channel CBC until 2 a.m. on June 5, which is something that has never happened since the January 25 revolution. What's more, the Agency re-broadcasted Shafiq's statements during the same interview at 5 a.m. in the morning.
Although less offensive, the position of the newspaper Al-Akhbar did not differ much from that of the national newspapers. On June 8, Al-Akhbar published "The Failed Birth of the Constituent.” This story criticized the formation of the Constituent [Assembly] and the intransigent attitude of the Freedom and Justice Party and the Muslim Brotherhood toward the formation of the Constituent Assembly, which is tasked with developing the constitution. Furthermore, the article attacked the fact that Islamists continued to disagree with other political forces until the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces threatened to dissolve the Constituent Assembly from the parliament if no agreement was reached.
The newspaper Al-Joumhouria also attacked the Muslim Brotherhood over the past ten days. In a June 8 editorial, it expressed regret at the continual disputes among the political forces over the formation of the Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly is tasked with drafting Egypt's first constitution after the glorious January 25 revolution, when the Egyptian people, from every sect, reached the highest level of unity. The youth, men, women and even children took part in the overthrow of the despotic and corrupt regime in the hopes of building a new system that would bring about freedom, dignity and social justice. They sacrificed their lives and blood, while enduring all forms of suffering after the revolution.
The paper said that the hope for a new era that is framed by a new constitution has not yet been achieved, because of the divisions among some of the political parties. They are competing amongst each other for gains that are not yearned for by the people who participated in the revolution. The newspaper noted that this is a real pity, and it will go down in history as a shame, not an achievement.
Al-Joumhouria tackled the confusion plaguing the country, especially over the recent judiciary crisis that arose after MPs started to attack the verdict of former president Mubarak. The paper said, “A year and a half have almost passed since the great January uprising, which restored hope to the Egyptians who want a decent life - both materially and morally - and who had been very desperate. Despite this long period, mistakes have not been corrected and some political parties are still scrambling to achieve every single goal of the revolution. Everyone is struggling for power, believing that they are right and that others are wrong.”
The paper stressed the need for self-examination in order to find solutions that can be implemented amid obstacles that may prevent us from completing the democratic process. Al-Joumhouria also called for industrial production to reach its highest levels, the return of investors who fled the country and also called for Egypt to attract more investment projects.