Arabic media review

Mubarak, dead or alive

Al-Ahram claims the coming two days will be ‘the most fateful 48 hours in the history of Egypt’

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Hosni Mubarak being wheeled into court last September (photo credit: AP/Mohammed al-Law)
Hosni Mubarak being wheeled into court last September (photo credit: AP/Mohammed al-Law)

Conflicting reports on the clinical death of deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have made it into some Arab dailies Wednesday. Other dailies focus on the results of the Egyptian presidential vote and its repercussions.

“Mubarak is dead, Mubarak is not dead!” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, accompanied by a photo of a mummy-like Mubarak lying on a bed with his eyes shut.

“Mubarak is declared clinically dead and a gang war wages at Tahrir,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. The daily juxtaposes two photos that speak more loudly than words about its position on the presidential elections: in one, an Egyptian man is kissing a poster of independent, pro-Mubarak candidate Ahmad Shafiq. In the other, a man (described as a municipality worker) is tearing a Morsi poster off the wall.

The daily also bashes Morsi in a second article, where it interviews Egyptian Christians who voice fear for the secular character of the state if the Muslim Brotherhood takes power.

London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports that Mubarak was transferred to the military hospital in Maadi following a deterioration in his health, but surprisingly adds that Egypt’s central election committee will declare Ahmad Shafiq the winner of the elections.

Qatar-based news station Al-Jazeera asserts that “Mubarak is in a coma, but did not die,” according to a “medical source” in Cairo. The station reports that an official statement will soon be released concerning Mubarak’s precise medical condition.

Establishment Egyptian daily Al-Ahram does not speculate whether Mubarak is dead or alive, reporting just that “his heart stopped and he suffered a stroke.”

‘The Egyptian political stratum in all its forms is not prepared to respect even semblance of peaceful transformation to democratic life’

Some dailies completely disregard Mubarak’s health condition, focusing solely on Egypt’s turbulent political situation.

“Psychological warfare on the presidency and an Intifadah against the constitutional declaration,” reads the headline of independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, featuring a photo of celebrating Morsi supporters.

Meanwhile, Al-Ahram reports the beginning of “the most fateful 48 hours in the history of Egypt,” as both presidential candidates will be summoned before the High Elections Commission to discuss their appeals in the election process.

Saudi-owned news website Elaph reports that although the final election results have not yet emerged, members of Mubarak’s regime have begun fleeing Egypt for fear of reprisals from the Muslim Brotherhood. The fear, reports the website, is based on a statement by Morsi whereby he will “trample underfoot” members of the old regime, a statement he later retracted.

“There is no democracy without democrats,” writes Al-Hayat columnist Abdullah Iskandar.

“The scene produced by the presidential elections in Egypt shows that the Egyptian political stratum in all its forms is not prepared to respect even the semblance of peaceful transformation to democratic life. The suffering under the former regime has not motivated reflection on modes of operation.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah promises ‘transparent’ elections in 2012

In an interview with Al-Hayat, Jordan’s King Abdullah pledges to charge forward with political reforms, promising to hold parliamentary elections before the end of the year.

Asked whether he would be willing to turn Jordan into a constitutional monarchy, the king avoided the question and referred instead to the way the future government is formed. The king said he believed governments should be formed from within parliament rather than appointed by him.

“To those who use the term ‘constitutional monarchy’ to mean the mechanism of forming governments I say that I have spoken on many occasions about representative and parliamentary governments since taking power under the constitution,” the king said. “You will find that I have stressed my commitment to reaching parliamentary governments.”

Assad forces bomb Homs

The Syrian army continues to bomb the city of Homs in central Syria, Arab media reports Wednesday, turning the city into a “ghost town” with more than 1,000 families under siege, according to A-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is “very worried” about the continued bombardment of Homs. Al-Jazeera reports that although the work of the UN monitor delegation in Syria has been suspended, the UN has decided to leave the delegation in Syria. General Robert Mood, who heads the delegation, told the UN Security Council that the observers are morally obligated to remain in the country.

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