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IN THE PAPERS

An overview of the stories making the French and international newspaper headlines. From Monday to Friday live at 7.20 am and 9.20 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2011-02-02

“How dare Mubarak speak to us like naughty children!”

INTERNATIONAL PAPERS, Wed., 2/2/2011: Egypt’s continuing protest movement is making front page news around the world. We look at the headlines, reports from the protest movement and analysis of the real or imagined impact of social networks, ElBaradei’s relations with the US and other angles on the story.

 

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“How dare Mubarak treat us like naughty children,” one protestor told The Guardian yesterday in Cairo, this after the Egyptian President addressed the nation, criticizing the unrest and failing to mention the scores of dead at the hands of police in the past week.
We take a look at the paper’s front page coverage and online reporting.
 
We start however with the International Herald Tribune. The paper went to press before Mubarak addressed the nation. It’s front page does however recount that senior US diplomat Frank Wisner told Mubarak yesterday he should not run for another term. Does this amount to Obama withdrawing support from Mubarak?
 
Inside, the paper analyses the ‘paradoxical’ relationship of Mohamed El Baradei with the US. The Eyptian national and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency “crossed swords” with the Bush administration over Iran and Iraq.
“This ironically will help him in Egypt,” notes the paper.
 
The US views him as someone with whom they can work. “Both Obama and El Baradei opposed the Iraq War and are Nobel laureates.”
 
But there is worry over his policies regarding Israel and the Palestinians:  “For instance the US and Israel have counted on the Egyptians to enforce their part of the blockade on the Gaza strip, controlled by Hamas…In June, El Baradei called the Gaza blockade, “a brand of shame on the forehead of every Arab, every Egyptian and every human being.”
 
 
“These revolutions have revived a tired debate about the power of social media.”
 
“Yes you can get a million people to join “Save Darfur” but also a million to join the “Foundation for the Protection of Swedish Underwear Models”.”
 
“Facebook cannot replace good old-fashioned activism…The organization required for something like the civil rights movement cannot be supplanted by social media.”
 
“Where it is revolutionary is not in organization so much as in revealing peer preferances,” Woods underlines.
 
Several studies show what stalled the civil rights movement in the US was the false believe by Southern Americans that their peers supported segregation.
 
“In Egypt, Mubarak’s illegitimacy has long been the family secret. Few dared to speak out for fear that their peers would not show up…Here now is the strength of Facebook – it allows for quick coordination and reveals important information and peer preferences. It offers a platform to say “you are not alone, see you in Tahrir Square”.”
 
The Independent’s Robert Fisk again provides vivid reporting from Cairo.  He found a courtyard covered in rectangular white sheets where political scribes could spray paint their own slogans for 40p a day.
 
“The tea houses behind Talat Harb’s statue were crammed with drinkers, discussing Egypt’s new politics with the passion of one of Delacroix’s orientalist paintings…You could soak this stuff up all day – revolution in the making.”
 
Also in The Independent, Egyptian writer Alaa A Aswany likens revolution to being in love. The passion and indeed the sense of transformation, of becoming a better person gives protestors a sensation similar to that of falling in love, he believes.
 
The Financial Times says that Egypt is traditionally a trendsetter for the Arab World and provides three possible scenarios for the near future: 1/ the ‘slow burn’, 2/ the ‘twilight zone’ or 3/ the ‘people’s choice’.
 
 
“Abdullah is now faced with tough choices. Instituting true electoral reforms would pit him against his political allies, reluctant to give up their privileged status. It would also risk bringing Islamists to power, just as the 2006 Palestinian elections brought Hamas to power on the other side of the Jordan River.

If, on the other hand, Abdullah attempts to present lofty-sounding reforms with no real content, he might soon face the type of turmoil currently rocking Egypt.”

 

By James CREEDON

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