Bloody clashes in Cairo between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian security on the anniversary of the “October War” lead the headlines of Arab newspapers on Monday.
“Celebrations in Tahrir and bloody clashes on its periphery,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, featuring a photo of veiled women celebrating in Cairo’s main square, carrying posters of Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi.
“The insistence of supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi on entering a square packed with his opponents caused clashes between the Brotherhood on one side and the celebrators and security on the other, causing casualties and injuries,” reads the article, putting the blame for the violence on the Morsi supporters.
“Egypt: Street fights forewarn a new escalation of violence; dozens of casualties in clashes between the Brotherhood and police,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, featuring a photo of young men — some of them masked — demonstrating in support of the Brotherhood in downtown Cairo.
Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera, supportive of the Brotherhood, begins its TV coverage of Sunday’s events with the processions and protests of the Islamic movement, which called on the army to depoliticize the celebrations and return the situation to what it was before July 3 (when president Morsi was deposed with its help).
“Those who rejected the coup were banned from the squares, as opposed to its supporters who were let in, contrary to previous promises by authorities that all squares will remain shut to both sides.”
Displaying footage of tear gas being fired at Brotherhood protesters near Tahrir square, the report continues: “The security apparatus did not only prevent them from entering Tahrir, but fired tear gas and live bullets at them, leaving dead and injured.”
“This will likely not be the last day in a crisis which raises cardinal questions regarding the role of the military in restoring democracy, in the view of opponents of the coup,” ends the report.
Egyptian media is even more partisan in its coverage of the events.
“The people celebrate, and the Brotherhood destroy,” reads the headline of independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.
“Hundreds of thousands of citizens took to the squares of Cairo and the provinces yesterday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the October 6 victory, forming a ‘shield and sword’ against attempts by the brotherhood to storm Tahrir Square and spoil the nation’s happiness at its army’s victory in regaining the land and honor.”
Al-Ahram, Egypt’s establishment daily, leads with the headline “Egypt regains the spirit of October,” reporting “millions” of Egyptians on the streets carrying posters of slain president Anwar Sadat. In the newspaper’s photo, one protester is holding up a poster featuring nationalist president Gamal Abdul Nasser next to General El-Sissi, reading “Egypt is free.”
In an exclusive interview with Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour praises the financial support received from the Gulf, and especially from Saudi Arabia.
“Egypt is indispensable to the Arabs, and the Arabs are indispensable to Egypt,” said Mansour, on the eve of his first diplomatic trip to Saudi Arabia.
But not everyone in the Arab media is taking part in Egypt’s party of self-congratulation.
“Why is Egyptian media biased toward the counterrevolution?” wonders Al-Jazeera columnist Mohammed Al-Jawadi. He tracks the subservience of Egyptian media to the will of government back to the days of Gamal Abdel Nasser.
“As a military man, Abdel Nasser didn’t want to owe favors to anyone but his weapons. He diligently marginalized the role of the media so that the revolution would not repeat itself, lest he become its victim after having generated it.”