Egypt Independent

Sunday’s news: Happy Easter and calls for a minimum wage

State-run papers lead with President Mubarak sending his best greetings to Pope Shenouda III and to Egypt’s Copts for the Easter holiday. Al-Ahram adds assurances that all is back to normal in Naga Hammadi–which witnessed the killing of seven people in sectarian violence last January–saying that “Muslims there celebrated Easter with their Coptic brothers as they have done for centuries.”

Al-Akhbar leads with news of intensive campaigns against the “illegal emigration mafia.” The report says that 28 company offices in six governorates are under investigation for sending employees out of the country without permits.

Al-Ahram also tackles this issue under the headline: “Emigrating to death.” The report says that almost every passing month there is news of a sunken boat harboring illegal migrants or of the arrest of migrants trying to infiltrate Greek or Italian shores.

Al-Akhbar warns its readers to beware of bad feseekh (dried, salted fish that is very popular during Sham el-Neseem, a national holiday marking the advent of spring). According to the report, doctors suggest that diabetics, heart disease patients and those who suffer chronic diseases abstain from the half-rotten delicacy. For the rest, it’s recommended that fesikh, sardines and ringa be eaten with lettuce, rocket and green onions, which the report says have the capacity to absorb poisons from the body.

The two government papers also assure its readers that the country is prepared for Sham el-Neseem, saying the National Transport Authority will be running extra trains to handle excess inter-city travel during the public holiday.

In independent news, Al-Shorouq leads with the headline: “Workers threaten to imprison the head of government.” The title refers to a demonstration outside the Egyptian cabinet yesterday that saw protesters calling for an increase in the national minimum of wage to LE1200 per month.

Egypt’s minimum wage is currently LE35, and has remained unchanged since 1984. A recent administrative court order has decreed that the minimum wage must be raised, though the ruling did not set a precise figure.

The paper says the demonstrators, which it claims were about 200, will gather again on May 1st, either to celebrate the new minimum wage, or to stage a sit-in till their demands are met.

Al-Ahram also covers the demonstration, reporting that about 1000 citizens attended. The brief report is beneath a much larger lead stating that 700,000 new jobs would be created during this year, and noting a small reduction in unemployment and other positive economic changes.

Al-Dostour and Al-Shorouq both report on the arrest of the manager of a publishing house called Daw’win. Last week, the company had published a book titled ElBaradei and the Dream of the Green Revolution, authored by Rose el-Youssef journalist Kamal Gabrial. The manger, Ahmed Mahni was arrested at his home, with some of his books and his PC confiscated.

Al-Shorouq quotes his father saying that until now the reasons for his arrest remain unclear. Al-Dostour adds that the Interior Ministry denied the entire incident.

Egypt’s newspapers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt
Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size
Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run
Rose el-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party’s Policies Secretariat
Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned
Al-Shorouq:Daily, privately owned
Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party
Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party
Youm7: Weekly, privately owned
Sawt el-Umma: Weekly, privately owned