Middle East

Morsi ridiculed in Egyptian press

An Egyptian newspaper vendor displays a copy of a morning newspaper fronted by a picture of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo
Image caption Many newspapers criticised Mr Morsi's attitude while in the dock

The vast majority of Egypt's newspapers seem determined to cut a former president down to size, a glance at the headlines reveals the day after Mohammed Morsi's first appearance on trial.

A distinct lack of sympathy is shown for the ex-president, who is described as behaving "hysterically" by several dailies.

The absence of support for Mr Morsi reflects Egypt's highly-charged media scene since he was ousted, where many Islamist TV stations have been shut down. Most privately-owned papers adopt a strident tone in expressing their opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood.

State-owned papers appear to be more measured, yet they rarely allow controversial comment by pro-Brotherhood columnists.


Many newspapers focus their criticism on Mr Morsi's attitude and manners in the courtroom.

"[Muslim] Brotherhood Hysteria" reads the front-page headline of private newspaper Al-Yawm al-Sabi in bold red letters. The widely-read daily Al-Misri al-Yawm also describes Mr Morsi and the other defendants as hysterical.

Privately-owned Al-Watan, a daily which is sharply critical of the Muslim Brotherhood, says Mr Morsi "boasted about his" suit and rejected the court's rules about defendants wearing a white uniform.

It painted a picture of Mr Morsi having a "screaming fit" and refusing to board the helicopter that was to take him to prison after the hearing. State-run Al-Ahram noted that Mr Morsi had to remove his suit and put on the required uniform when he arrived at Burj al-Arab prison.

At the same time, the state is making a good impression by holding the trial, the pro-government paper Al-Jumhuriyah says.

"Egyptians have twice presented the world with a civilized image when they ensured that both deposed presidents, [Hosni] Mubarak and Morsi, be given a fair and legal trial, granting them the right to defend themselves, in contrast to other nations which used the sword, not the law to punish traitors," its editorial states.

'Legitimate president'

Front-page headlines of dailies sponsored or owned by the state, Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar and Al-Jumhurriyah, highlight Mr Morsi's statement at court that he is the "legitimate president" of Egypt.

The private, anti-Brotherhood daily Al-Tahrir says Mr Morsi was "murmuring" the word "legitimacy" 21 times in a "delirium".

By insisting on his rightful leadership and rejecting the trial he is following the example of Iraq's Saddam Hussein, says liberal Al-Wafd daily.

Al-Misri al-Yawm compares him unfavourably to Hosni Mubarak. Commentator Muhammad Amin says Mr Morsi's attitude shows the difference between a head of state and the head of a gang.

"I would have preferred for the trial to be broadcast live but Morsi is not worth it, nor is his gang or his defence team," he says. "They don't deserve to stand trial as a ruling regime."


But a completely different image of Mr Morsi is projected in the Muslim Brotherhood daily Al-Hurriyah wal Adalah, which is still published but not widely circulated.

The paper describes Mr Morsi as a hero on its front page, saying that "the smiling president" was "challenging the coup" at the trial, which it calls "farcical".

A commentator in the paper, Iamd abu-Hashim, combatively explains why he thinks the trial itself is legally unsound.

And the paper quotes a psychologist as saying that Mr Morsi was "steadfast" in the dock because of his confidence in his righteousness.

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