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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Pickups of the Interior Ministry’s statement identifying the attackers top headlines

Coverage of the aftermath of the church bombings continues to dominate the conversation about Egypt in the international press this morning, with pickups of the Interior Ministry’s statement identifying the attackers being the most talked about story. Other stories worth noting include:

Sunday’s attacks left President Abdel Fattah El Sisi grappling with the question of how to defeat a Daesh insurgency while also trying to repair “a broken economy,” Hamza Hendawi writes for the Associated Press. He notes that “militants are adapting and finding new ways of hitting back” and that they are now clearly targeting Christians with an aim “to embarrass el-Sissi by exposing holes in security.” Hendawi adds that economic tensions could possibly increase over the summer and that the attacks and the state of emergency that followed only further undermine efforts to revive the tourism industry.

Sunday’s church bombings and the subsequent state of emergency risk derailingthe economic reform agenda, says business analysis firm Frontera News in a series of five short pieces on Wednesday. The risks are twofold: this week’s events may add fuel to the discontent felt on the street-level to the high inflation — already the biggest challenge to the reform program; and the bombings might risk Egypt losing the backing of foreign investors, who may view the country as not as stable as previously thought. Unlike its previous series on Egypt, Frontera appears to have changed its tune on the reform agenda itself, which they feel has been helping Egypt diversify away from its tourism industry. It acknowledges that the pace of inflation has slowed down in March, but notes that it is too early to expect this slowing down of inflation to start showing its impact at the retail level, especially at a time when the country is trying to push through more reforms.

Al Arabiya is dabbling in self-orientalism, with Egyptian pundit Mohamed Noseirsuggesting there are several cultural practices unique to Egypt that have both inspired the attacks and have led to the security lapse that have allowed the attacks to happen. He has a point on some of these, namely the propensity to invoke a state of emergency, which he says doesn’t really deter terrorists and might scare off potential investments. Others are just plain asinine, such as this gem that when things are going well, we are not as cautious (as is every culture on the planet).

Other international coverage in the aftermath of the Palm Sunday attacks included:

  • The Palm Sunday attacks are a “terrifying reminder of the escalating threats facing Egypt’s Christian minority,”Human Rights Watch says.It also warns that the imposed state of emergency could risk more abuses.
  • Daesh-affiliate terrorists Sinai Province are looking to divide Egypt’s Muslim and Christian communities and have also killed people following different interpretations of Islam, Callum Paton writes in Newsweek.
  • Palm Sunday’s bombings helped President El Sisi build closer ties withhis US counterpart, former NY Times reporter Judith Miller writes for Fox News.
  • Christian Science Monitor is praising the solidarity between Muslim and Christian clerics.
  • The Coptic faith has been oppressed since its founding by St. Mark, writes Samuel Tadros writes for The Atlantic.

Elsewhere this morning: The foreign press chewed over Pope Francis’ planned late-April visit to Egypt. Italy’s ANSA Med is running statements by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas where he declares that the pope’s visit would encourage moderate clerics. Francesca Astorri interestingly suggests in Al Arabiya that the trip is part of the Catholic church’s efforts to bolster its evangelical mission in the context of a dwindling Catholic population in Europe and Middle East.

In the Arab world, Egypt has been long recognized for its own brand of soft power, the House Foreign Relations Committee Chair Dalia Youssef writes in the Washington Examiner. Besides recounting the platitudinous lists of how Egyptian music, film, culture, and dialect are spread across the region, Youssef says this soft power “is important not only for the country’s identity, but also to encourage a serious discussion among Arabs on religious discourse.” Her main point is that Egypt is seeking a more robust relationship with the US and that this relationship should strengthen Egypt’s soft power for a more “prosperous and secure Middle East.”

Other coverage worth noting in brief:

  • Eman Ahmed, who was once dubbed the world’s heaviest woman, has lost over 262 kgs since getting surgery in India, Huffington Post India reports. “Water content in her body has been reduced. Now, the challenging part is to bring down fats in her body,” Ahmed’s surgeon says.
  • Nigeria’s diplomatic relationship in Egypt is the subject of a glowing editorial in Nigerian publication Leadership.

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