A massive demonstration in downtown Cairo demanding that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi revoke a constitutional decision granting him sweeping powers over the judiciary tops the front pages of all major Arab dailies Wednesday.
Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, always critical of the Muslim Brotherhood and its leader, runs a headline reading “Egypt: ‘Tahrir’ returns the revolutionary atmosphere.” The daily reports the feeling of “a new revolution” in the wake of the largest protests since those of winter 2011, which toppled president Mubarak.
‘Every time we say, “That’s it, the country has stabilized” — things flare up again,’ 50-year-old Haj Muhammad says. ‘We are entering a dark tunnel which we will not emerge from easily’
The daily also quotes former Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mehdi Akef as defending Morsi’s declaration and calling the protests “made up.”
“Every time we say, ‘That’s it, the country has stabilized,’ — things flare up again,” 50-year-old Haj Muhammad tells the daily. “We are entering a dark tunnel which we will not emerge from easily.”
London-based daily Al-Hayat also describes Tahrir’s revolutionary atmosphere, but focuses more on its political ramifications.
“Tahrir ‘million-man protest’ confuses Morsi’s calculations,” reads the daily’s headline. The opposition’s tour de force in multiple Egyptian provinces has proven the ability of Egypt’s liberal forces to mobilize the masses in the face of Islamists, “unaffected by religious slogans,” Al-Hayat claims.
“Morsi has lost the initiative following his failure to satisfy the judges,” reads the headline of an article by Ahmad Mustafa in Al-Hayat. Morsi wagered on a split within the ranks of the judges, Mustafa argues, but instead other sectors of society, including artists, journalists and lawyers, joined the protest movement.
Khalil Anani, an Egyptian columnist writing Wednesday for Al-Hayat, claims in his op-ed that Morsi’s presidency is a ‘dictatorship under a revolutionary guise’
“Secular Egypt rises up; street wars rage in a number of provinces,” reads the headline of Arab-nationalist daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi. The article, which features a photo of veiled women raising their arms as they chant anti-government slogans at the demonstration, focuses on the violence and public disruptions caused by the opposition.
“A million-man march carries a healthy message,” reads the headline of the daily’s editorial. “The mobilization is healthy and displays an effort to safeguard democracy and the revolutionary values.”
Khalil Anani, an Egyptian columnist writing Wednesday for Al-Hayat, claims in his op-ed that Morsi’s presidency is a “dictatorship under a revolutionary guise.”
“It may be said that Morsi’s declaration bears the seeds of a new dictatorship being inaugurated in Egypt following the revolution, under a popular guise. Some may believe that the constitutional declaration is a political mistake of miscalculation on Morsi’s part. This seems true, but not without numerous indications about how the president thinks and how he deals with political crises he may face,” writes Anani.
During the funeral Monday of 17-year-old Jaber Salah, the first “martyr” of the new protest, the public shouted “O Jaber rest assured, we will punish the butcher.”
According to independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, Salah’s mother blames President Morsi for his death, saying that her son was in fact a Morsi supporter and wanted to live in a wonderful country. “I will sue the president and the ministry of interior.”
Syria — is the end any nearer?
The Syrian opposition continues to score points in its ongoing struggle to topple President Bashar Assad.
A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports that both the government and the opposition are amassing troops in and around Damascus in preparation for “the great battle.” Opposition forces tell the daily that they have succeeded in destroying 10 tanks in the city of Darya and taking control of an air defense battalion near the capital.
The pro-opposition daily also reports a “qualitative breakthrough” as the opposition succeeds in downing a military helicopter engaged in bombing the Aleppo area, using a ground to air missile.
Qatari news station Al-Jazeera, perhaps more updated than the Saudi daily, reports the downing of a MiG fighter jet in addition to the helicopter.
The station’s short video report focuses on summary executions perpetrated by the regime against internally displaced Syrians near Damascus.
A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports that both the government and the opposition are amassing troops in and around Damascus in preparation for ‘the great battle’
In a separate article, the daily quotes a Human Rights Watch report condemning the Syrian regime for resuming the use of cluster bombs against civilians. The article is accompanied by a photo of citizens crowding around a bakery in the city of Idlib.
A Free Syrian Army official, Colonel Aref Hamoud, tells the daily that Assad has resorted to using cluster bombs as a punitive measure against rebellious regions of the country, and may soon begin to use surface-to-surface missiles against Syrian civilians, to inflict a maximal amount of damage.