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How Egypt's papers cover the clashes

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How Egypt's papers cover the clashes


State-run daily al-Ahram was clear on its position on Thursday morning. “Millions in the street to support Mubarak” ran its front page headline.

A subtitle added that “Marches and protests in the regions to salute the decisions taken by Mubarak.” According to that particular newspaper, many Egyptians were satisfied with the speech given by their president on Tuesday night. And his supporters are peaceful: “Millions of silent people in regions across Egypt came out to show their support for Mubarak’s speech,” it writes.

In the state-run press there is no mention of the ‘baltageya’, the armed thugs paid to cause trouble and break up protests. It does describe the clashes between pro- and anti-government demonstrators on Tahrir Square and says that the message that needs to be put across to people is ‘go back home.’

Another pro-regime daily, al-Akhbar, offers a similar tone. it reports Omar Suleiman’s declaration that ‘the message has been heard. Dialogue now requires an end to the demonstrations.” It adds that “13 parties, including the Wafd and the Nasseris have accepted to enter dialogue.”

In the independent press, those supporting Mubarak are described as more aggressive. The paper run by the Wafd party accuses the ruling party of being behind the violence. “PND militia launch an offensive in Tahrir Square with sticks and tear gas,” it says.

As for the independent Masri el-Yaom, it goes for straight facts: “Tahrir Square transforms into a battlefield…and the nation appeals for calm.” Its front page photo shows hardcore protesters charging at crowds on horseback.

The Chourouq, again an independent publication headlines with “Three martyrs and 1,500 wounded in the Tahrir massacre.” It specifies that “the baltayega take part in the battle for the regime with Molotov cocktails, horses and camels…Mubarak’s supporters used horses and camels to break the protests.” A member of the ruling party, Moustafa el Fiqqi “accuses businessmen in the ruling party of paying baltayega to commit crimes,” it claims.

Behind the violence, the daily Al Akhbar sees another culprit and boasts an exclusive scoop: “Documents prove the existence of a foreign plot to destabilise Egypt…details of the plot include an occupation of television and state party headquarters, arson in police stations and information on the involvement of Iranians. Hezbollah commandos attack the Wadi Natroun et Hamas units sneak into the country via tunnels with intent to cause sabotage.” In the middle of the paper, a two-page spread with satellite maps showing “evidence” of the plot. Another article explains that “young Facebook users left the square only to be replaced by others.”

The lack of real verification of information is perhaps clumsy but it is effective. Anti-foreign feeling is growing.

Moïna Fauchier Delavigne, euronews correspondent in Cairo

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