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In the press

Mubarak in the Egyptian Museum

Much of the world’s press leads with romance and fun pieces for Saint Valentine’s Day and, of course, the continued tension in North Africa as Italy tries to cope with an influx of illegal Tunisian immigrants.

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There is a lot of tension in people’s lives in North Africa at the moment and the Algerian paper El Watan captures that in its Valentine’s Day cartoon. A couple of people are at each other throats. One is saying “I love you” and the other screams back “ME TOO!!!”.

The International Herald Tribune leads « Military starts Egypt’s transition » with a photo showing traffic moving through Cairo’s Tahrir Square once again. A cartoon shows that, while some 18 items in the Egyptian National Museum have gone, there is a new exhibit. It’s a statue of deposed President Hosni Mubarak standing on a pedestal.

A comment piece in the same paper by Thomas L. Friedman says that the US President Barack Obama made a hugely important unintended contribution to Egypt’s Revolution by not endorsing it fully till it was over. Friedman says that means the people in the square “now know one very powerful thing: They did it all themselves”.

In Egypt itself, the Daily News Egypt reports that while the protests are over in Tahrir Square they’ve begun for the police, who are now protesting for their rights. Police insist they were ordered against their will to shoot at protesters. More than one thousand police marched to the Egyptian Interior Ministry to demand “pay rises, better health care … and for their former boss, sacked interior minister Habib El-Adly, be dragged into a public place and summarily executed”.

Concerning other North African countries, Le Soir d’Algerie leads on Saturday’s protests in Algiers with the headline: “Rendezvous Next Saturday” and a photo saying “Game Over”, words meant for Algerian President Adbdelaziz Bouteflika and another saying “Let’s Change the System”. Attention is on Algeria to see how dissent may evolve there in the light of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

One consequence of the changes in North Africa is being felt in Italy. La Stampa describes the arrival of thousands of Tunisians over the last five days as a “biblical exodus”. It says the island of Lampedusa off the coast of Sicily is “under siege” and Tunisians have become the “padroni” - the bosses. It reports there are just 30 carabinieri to watch over five thousand arrivals.

And to China which has become the world’s second-largest economy ahead of Japan. One sign of the change underway is that Beijing’s middle classes can afford two love fests, not one. The Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece The China Daily is reporting a surge on sales of Valentine’s Day confectionery, even though the Chinese have their own day for lovers - the Sixth of August.

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