CAIRO: A variety of news items have vied for headlines this week. Reoccurring themes in this week’s local and international papers have been the extension of the Emergency Law, the death of the policeman in the hunt for the Dahab bombers, in addition to Egypt and Jordan’s collaboration to end terrorism and promote peace in the region.
News of the renewal of the Emergency Law, allowing indefinite detention without trial, has run rampant, making the front page of most local papers. Al Ahram first reported news of the Emergency Law (approved by parliament on Sunday), stating that Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif requested an extension of the law for an additional two years, or until the government has prepared a new anti-terrorism law in an address to parliament last Sunday.
Alam Al-Youm also reported the same news item on Saturday. According to both papers, the prime minister requested an extension in light of the attacks in Dahab, stating that after the attacks, an implementation of an extension to the law was vital. The Muslim Brotherhood, the strongest opposition force, said there was no justification for extending the law, according to the paper.
Al-Akhbar also reported on Saturday that the Muslim Brotherhood stated that Egyptian authorities detained 43 members of the group over the past two days, including 25 for hanging up posters condemning the Emergency Laws.
The bombings in Dahab still take center stage in the press, although this week it has been from a different angle. News of the death of one of the policemen sent to Dahab by the government to hunt bombers behind the Dahab attacks, Abd El Khalek Nabil Abu-Zeid, made the front page of many newspapers.
The front page of yesterday’s Al-Akhbar ran coverage of the policeman’s public funeral, under the headline, “Thousands seeking revenge..Mother of martyr wears white at funeral. The story described the emotions running high at the funeral, as well as the people who attended, including the prime minister, Gamal Mubarak and a number of National Democratic Party (NDP) members, as well as prominent and high-ranking officials in the security forces.
In related news, Al-Akhbar ran a story on Sunday stating that police captured four suspects and were pursuing others hiding in a mountainous area of northern Sinai some 270 km from Dahab. According to the story, one of the suspects captured, Atta Al Sawarty, an employee at a supermarket in Dahab, confessed to hiding some of the bomb components in the supermarket’s storage as they collected the pieces to put together the bombs.
El-Ghad newspaper, quoting a statement made by the Minister of Interior, also reported that police hunting for the bombers killed three suspects during the shoot-out that killed Abu-Zeid.
El-Ghad reported last Sunday that Magdi Radi, the spokesperson for parliament, said that the government had not received word on terrorist threats in the Sinai before the Dahab bombing, contrary to rumors that the government knew in advance that Dahab was on their “hit list. The article, entitled, “Did Egypt get terrorist threats before the Dahab bombings? also went on to quote Radi in an interview he had with CNN, in which he stated that Egypt is not the only country that faces terrorist acts and threats and that the country is taking its role in locating and persecuting those involved in the Dahab incidents very seriously.
President Hosni Mubarak’s visit to Aqaba with Jordan’s King Abdullah II was in the news even before the visit took place. According to Reuters, Jordan and Egypt said on Wednesday that they hoped to encourage the newly formed Israeli government to return to the negotiating table and wanted the Palestinian president, not his Hamas-led government, to reach a final settlement with the Jewish state.
King Abdullah II and Mubarak discussed their common strategy against terrorism and promoting peace in the region, said Egypt s Foreign Minister of the results of the closed-door meeting in Aqaba. Reuters also stated at the beginning of last week that the talks between the two rulers were initially set to discuss stalled Middle East peace talks, the prospects for Arab-Israeli peacemaking under a new Israeli coalition government and the impact of the rise to power of the militant group Hamas, which won Palestinian elections in January.
In other news, Al Ahram reported on Tuesday a collision between a cargo train and a passenger train that took place on Monday in Sharqiya governorate, 65 km north of Cairo that left 45 people injured.
Al-Akhbar also reported the crash, stating that the passenger train coming from Cairo en route to Zaqaziq, capital of Sharqiya, crashed into a cargo train from Zaqaziq to Cairo in northern Sharqiya.